Dead Conscience

It has been confirmed that when conscience is dead, life is doomed both in this world and in the world to come. 

SCRIPTURE: Now the spirit speaketh expressly that in the later times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of the devil, speaking lies in hypocrisy having their conscience seered with a hot iron. 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: When the conscience is dead, life is doomed both in this world and in the world to come. 

Earlier, in our previous study, we saw the necessity of living with a clear conscience. The state of our conscience is very critical to our relationship with God. Our conscience affects our eternal destination. 

A living conscience facilitates a healthy spiritual life. 

Today, we want to look at what constitutes a dead conscience.

It has been confirmed that when conscience is dead, life is doomed both in this world and in the world to come. 

1 Timothy 4:1-2 says, Now the spirit speaketh expressly that in the later times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of the devil, speaking lies in hypocrisy having their conscience seered with a hot iron.

When people tell lies and don’t seem to feel anything; when they steal and don’t feel anything; when they commit immorality and don’t feel anything; when they cheat and don’t feel anything; when they kill and still don’t feel anything; their conscience is already dead. They are not safe. 

Now, conscience can die in the following ways:

  1. Repeated acts of rebellion.  

When you do the wrong thing repeatedly and your conscience pricks you for a while but you refuse to repent, you will be left alone. A time comes when the sinful action will begin to appear normal. That is the realm where some hardened criminals live their lives.

  1. Un-confessed sins

Conscience can become dead with un-confessed sins. This is a situation where the person is doing the wrong thing but does not see any reason to say “sorry” to God or to man. 

  1. Excusing or justifying wrong deeds.

Your conscience can die when you excuse or justify wrong deeds. When a person is busy excusing, explaining or justifying a wrong deed, the conscience can come to a point where it becomes unresponsive and dead. 

Beloved, it is very important to take heed to this so you don’t run your race on earth in vain. What shows that you are preparing for eternity is living with a clear conscience that is void of offence.

Remember this: When the conscience is dead, life is doomed both in this world and in the world to come. 


  1. Refuse to live in rebellion to God.
  2. Don’t live with un-confessed sins.
  3. Refuse to excuse or justify a wrong deed.
  4. Maintain a broken spirit and a contrite heart.

PRAYER: O Lord, I receive the grace to keep my conscience alive always. Deliver me from the tragedy of dead conscience, Lord, in Jesus’ Name.


QUOTE: Never sleep over a defiled conscience. Never! Culled from “WHO ARE YOU?” by Dr Paul Enenche.

DAILY READING: Ezekiel 13-15

AMAZING FACT: A person uses 17 muscles when they smile, and 43 when they frown.

PROPHETIC DECLARATION/WORD: Victory over transgression be your portion in this season in Jesus’ Name. 

Living To Please God

You were created to give pleasure to God with your life, so you don’t live just to please yourself. You don’t live to please society, and you don’t live to please the devil; you live to please God, your Maker.

SCRIPTURE: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: You cannot live with God in eternity if you cannot live for Him on earth. 

Yesterday, we saw that one of the things that constitute our readiness and preparedness for eternity with God in heaven is being born again.

Today, we shall look at yet another thing that constitutes readiness and preparedness for eternity with God in heaven.

It is living to please God with your life

You were created to give pleasure to God with your life, so you don’t live just to please yourself. You don’t live to please society, and you don’t live to please the devil; you live to please God, your Maker.

In Philippians 1:21, Paul the apostle said, For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Concerning Jesus Christ, God says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

This is also corroborated by Matthew 17:5 which says, While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Live to please God with your life.

Beloved, endeavour to answer the following questions objectively: Who is your life giving pleasure to, God, yourself or the devil? What you do with money, who is it giving pleasure to? Can God say that He is pleased with your life based on the way you are living? Can God say He is happy with you? Someone is happy with the way you dress or appear, who is that person, God or the devil? 

Now, why is it necessary to live to please God? Revelations 4:11 says, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

You are to exist to please God because you were created for His pleasure. So, you cannot say, “I can dress the way I please. I will live the way I want”. No! You don’t have the license to live the way you want.

If God created you for His pleasure and you don’t live in this world for His pleasure, how will you end in eternity? You cannot live with God in eternity if you don’t live for Him on the earth. 

So, live to please God with your life, not the devil, society or yourself.

Remember this: You cannot live with God in eternity if you cannot live for Him on the earth. 


  1. Refuse to live for yourself, the devil, or society. 
  2. Make up your mind to live only for God.

PRAYER:  O Lord, from today, I refuse to live for myself, the devil or society. I receive the grace to live for You only, Lord, in Jesus’ Name.


QUOTE: And if there is anyone that is trusting God for success and breakthrough on earth, a major key to that is to be determined to give God pleasure. Culled from “WHO ARE YOU?” by Dr Paul Enenche.

DAILY READING: Ezekiel 7-9

AMAZING FACT: The chemical compound in the body which causes feelings of ecstasy (phenylethylamine) is also contained in chocolate.

PROPHETIC DECLARATION/WORD: Receive the grace to please God with your life this day in Jesus’ Name. 


Living With A Conscience Void Of Offence.

As a Christian, it is crucial to live with a conscience that is tender and alive. That is living with a conscience that makes you to know when you have done something wrong. 

SCRIPTURE: And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards men. Acts 24:16

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: A living conscience equals a healthy spiritual life. 

In our previous studies, we saw two things that constitute readiness and preparedness for eternity with God in heaven. We saw that being born again and living to please God are necessary requirements for eternity with God in heaven.

Today, we shall look at another requirement for guaranteed eternity with God in heaven. 

It is living with a clear conscience that is void of offence before God and man. 

As a Christian, it is crucial to live with a conscience that is tender and alive. That is living with a conscience that makes you to know when you have done something wrong. It is a conscience that has the ability and maturity to say “sorry” to both God and man when you have done the wrong thing. 

Acts 24:16 says, And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards men.

Do you know that even unbelievers who don’t know God have conscience that can either accuse them or excuse them? Romans 2:14-15 says, For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;).

 So, peoples’ conscience either accuses or excuses them, even though they are not born again or go to church. 

There is nobody who kills a person and does not know that he has done a wrong thing. Nobody needs to go to church to know that stealing is wrong.

When you conspire against someone, there is a conscience to hold you accountable. This conscience becomes more active and lively when you become a Christian.

1 Timothy 1:19 says, Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

That is to say, when you throw your faith and conscience away, you make a shipwreck of your destiny. When you walk contrary to your conscience you make a shipwreck of your destiny. 

It was Rev. Samuel Wesley who told his son, John Wesley, “The inward witness, the conscience, that is the greatest sign of Christianity”. Let me put it this way: A living conscience equals a healthy spiritual life. 

Beloved, ensure that your conscience is alive and tender always.

Remember this: A living conscience equals a healthy spiritual life. 


  1. Ensure that your conscience is alive and active always.
  2. Don’t do anything that will kill your conscience.
  3. Repent promptly when your conscience accuses you.

PRAYER: O Lord, I ask that You give me a lively, active and tender conscience. Help me not to engage in anything that will desensitize or kill my conscience, Lord in Jesus’ Name.


QUOTE: Anything that attacks your conscience, attacks your preservation. Anything that reduces your confidence in God (which sin will do), also reduces your security from God. Culled from “15 KINGDOM STRATEGIES FOR SURVIVAL” by Dr Paul Enenche.

DAILY READING: Ezekiel 10-12

AMAZING FACT: The human heart pumps blood at such pressure that it would be able to raise blood up to the fourth floor of a building.

PROPHETIC DECLARATION/WORD: Grace to maintain a pure, clear and lively conscience be released on you in Jesus’ Name. 


Abominations to God

LEVITICUS 18:23-30

And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.(Genesis 2:20)

Whatever God has not given you, there will be no tenable excuse to God for either having or using it. You better be careful of how you gather! All you need to have in life should be what God has given you. Mind you, there is nothing you really need in life that God won’t give you. If you haven’t had it, it may be that the time you really need it is not yet ripe. All things being equal, when the time is ripe, your needs would be provided by God. We have been told to believe God according to Philippians 4:19 which says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Do you need anything, please don’t be too desperate to get it. Desperation has always been one of the ways that devil uses to manipulate people to claim what God is not freely giving them. Don’t be too desperate in life! If David was too desperate about becoming a king, he would have killed Saul at the slightest opportunity he had, but mind you, his time to become a king had not ripe and so he wasn’t desperate about becoming a king. There are times that desperation can make you appear before your time and when that happens, you will be held responsible for whatever calamity you expose yourself to. Hear me! To every exposure that God orchestrates, there is a level of equivalent armour. God won’t expose you to any breakthrough without first equiping you equivalently. There are different arrows that are designed for every level of glory and if God has neither trained nor equip you enough to handle such fiery darts, He won’t allow you to manifest. Only desperation can allow you break God’s protocol of timely manifestation. Therefore, don’t be too desperate in life! Be patient with God and with life. Don’t let the devil motivate you. He is a professional motivational speaker! He often uses the word of God to motivate anyone against his or her time. Don’t allow any motivational devil push you against time. Devil may tell you to be desperate like Jacob! He may even go as far as quoting for you a desperate language that Jacob made in Genesis 32:26 “And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” Yes, it is good to hold on to God, but that is different from being desperate. You see, every act of desperation always end up in a deficiency like what is written in Genesis 32:25 “And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.” Desperation can damage you before that which you are anticipating even comes. You must discern your appropriate time before becoming too desperate about anything. Now, why am I saying all these? It is to cause you to understand the intent of what is written in Genesis 2:20 which says, “And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

You see, God’s time is the best. If you settle this in your mind, you will have rest. You must understand that, with God, your time cannot pass. You must believe that God have you in mind as long as you are in His presence doing whatever He bids you. If you are busy for God, most especially in His presence, desperation will not be what would get anything that you need from God for you. Without being desperate, God will give you your need when He is through. Now, see Adam as an example; he was busy giving names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field, but mind you, for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. You know why? With God, everything is turn by turn! It was not yet the turn of Adam’s help-meet. And as you know, God always give the best at the last. That is the principle He followed in Matthew 20:8-12 “So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, BEGINNING FROM THE LAST UNTO THE FIRST. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.” You see how favour brought the last to the front! Don’t be too in a hurry when God has not answered you, it may be that God wants to favour you. Thank God Adam didn’t relapse in his duty of giving names to all animals even when God had not given him his own partner. He would have been trapped in the danger of desperation if he had done that. Hear me! It is not that Adam didn’t know that there was not a help meet for him among those animals that God was creating two by two, yet, he was still patient. He saw that he was the only one that God had not created a partner for. He knew that there had not been a female gender created for him, yet, he maintained his rest, believing God’s time is the best. And when God finished with the animals, lo and behold, his time came. May you not leave in desperation before your time comes! Now, do you care to know where I want to point your attention to that made me go roundel? It is that, God knows that none of those animals He created was meant for Adam and even Adam knew. And since Adam knew that those animals were not created for him, he did not also expect God to give any of them to him as his partner. Hear me! God has never given any animal to man as partner, therefore, He says this in Leviticus 18:23 “Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.” Hear me! Confusion is a manifestation of abomination. Anyone you see committing bestiality is in a confused state. Everything is in confusion about such a fellow! Whatever God is not giving you would end you up in a state of defilement and abomination. Beginning from Adam, God has not given any man an animal as sex partner and He will never give anyone. Therefore, anyone who takes what God has not given him for use has committed abomination. Bestiality is an abomination that defiles, simply because God has not given animals to man to lie with. If anyone does it, such a fellow would end up in a state of confusion; he will be defiled and be tagged abominable. God bless you.

Prayer: Oh God my Father, may I never be too desperate to get whatever is not in your mind for me, in Jesus name.

Living by Faith in an Uncertain World

I received an email from someone who is struggling with some decisions that have not worked out the way they expected. The details don’t matter except to say that the person took what seemed to be a step of faith and the result has been a great big mess.

“What did I do wrong?”

That’s a natural question to ask when life rewards your courage with nothing but trouble. The truth is, it’s entirely possible that this person did nothing wrong. Or maybe they did, but their current troubles are not proof that they were wrong in the first place.

That’s a hard truth to accept, especially when you’re the one in the middle of the mess, after you’ve done what you thought was the will of God. There are a lot of things that might be said at this point, but perhaps this one needs to be mentioned first.

Join the club.

What club is that? The International Fellowship of Faith-Walkers Who Feel Like Failures. The bad new is, we’re all a member of that club at one time or another. The good news is the membership includes every major Bible hero. Peter is a charter member. And so is David. And Gideon. And Noah. And Sarah. And Job. And Jacob.

The list goes on and on. Hebrews 11 offers us a long list of men and women who obeyed God even when things didn’t always work out they way they expected. The names written there are like a biblical hall of fame: Abel . . . Enoch . . . Noah . . . Abraham . . . Sarah . . . Jacob . . . Joseph . . . Moses . . . Joshua . . . David. Different people, different stories, widely separated in time and space. Stories that span thousands of years. Stories that encompass murder, natural catastrophe, family treachery, physical weakness, failed dreams, missed opportunities, sibling rivalry, and military conquest. The men and women whose stories are told in this particular chapter differ in every way but one. What they did, they did by faith.

All of them had moments when they must have wondered, “What did I do wrong?” Yet God considered each of them worthy of mention in this great chapter. Our focus in this message is on the man we often call “Father Abraham.” In the Bible he stands as the preeminent example of a man who lived by faith. Hebrews 11:8-10 tells how he obeyed God’s call at great personal sacrifice. It tells us what he did; more importantly, it tells us why he did it. And it clearly shows us that obeying God doesn’t always work out the way we think it will.

Let’s begin with some brief facts about Abraham. When we meet him in the Bible, he is living 4,000 years ago in a far-off place called Ur of the Chaldees – on the banks of the Euphrates River, not far from the mouth of the Persian Gulf. No doubt he and his wife Sarah worshiped the moon-god Sin. He is a prosperous, middle-aged man, successful by any human standard. Life has been good to Abraham and Sarah. Certainly they have no reason to complain.

It is at precisely this moment that God speaks to him – clearly, definitely, unmistakably. What God says will change his life – and ultimately alter the course of world history.

So what does it mean to live by faith in an uncertain world?

Truth #1: Living by faith means accepting God’s call without knowing where it will lead.

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). There is only one way to describe Ur of the Chaldees. It was a world-class city. Archaeologists tell us that in Abraham’s day perhaps 250,000 people lived there. It was a center of mathematics, astronomy, commerce and philosophy. People from outlying areas moved to Ur because they wanted to be part of that great city.

No doubt many of Abraham’s friends thought he was crazy. Why would anyone want to leave Ur? Obeying God’s call meant giving up his friends, his career, his traditions, his home, his position, his influence, and his country. More than that, it meant risking his health and his future on a vague promise from an unseen God to lead him to “a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).

When Abraham left Ur, he burned his bridges behind him. For him there could be no turning back. Once he left the walls of Ur, he was on his own, following God’s call into the unknown.

You say, “He gave all that up?”
“That’s kind of strange, isn’t it?”
“Is it?”

Please don’t miss the point. When God calls, there are no guarantees about tomorrow. Abraham truly didn’t know where he was going, didn’t know how he would get there, didn’t know how long it would take, and didn’t even know for sure how he would know he was there when he got there. All he knew was that God had called him. Period. Everything else was up in the air.

You want a long life? So do I.
You want to rise in your profession? So do I.
You want lots of friends? So do I.
You want to grow old and die with your family around you? So do I.

There’s nothing wrong with those desires. All of us feel that way. But living by faith means no guarantees and no certainty about the future.

I was once approached by a Christian ministry asking if I would consider a particular position in their organization. I met the people, liked them very much, and was very impressed by what they were doing. As I investigated further, I found that they take very good care of the people who work for them. I liked everything I learned about the people and their ministry. But when the moment came, I decided to say no. This isn’t how I put it to them, but it’s how I said it to myself.

I couldn’t hear the bells ringing.

You either understand that or you don’t. If you don’t, there isn’t much I can say that will be helpful. And if you do, there isn’t any explanation that is needed. But I will add this much. All of us come to moments in life when we say yes or no to certain opportunities simply because it’s the right thing to do at the time. Sometimes we take a job because we need to pay bills and take care of our family. It’s hard to get more basic than that. And young people take jobs in various places as they are building their careers. I just read an article that suggests that the average worker in the US may have as many as 10 jobs by the time he is 40 and will make 3-5 career changes by the time he retires. People make moves and change jobs and relocate and start over again for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes you are forced to make decisions for reasons beyond your control. In these tough economic times, people scramble to take whatever jobs they can find. But there are moments in life when you have a choice, a decision, and you can stay where you are or you can do something different. I don’t know of any failsafe way to know in advance how things will work out.

Abraham heard the bells ringing (not literally – that’s a symbol for a sense of God’s calling), and so he left Ur of the Chaldees. If you truly want to do God’s will, sometimes you will find yourself exactly where Abraham was – setting out on a new journey that doesn’t seem to make sense from the world’s point of view. How would he ever explain his decision to leave the comfort of Ur for the uncertainty of a long trek across the desert? The only certainty he had was that God had called him and he must obey. The rest was shrouded in mystery. That fact makes his obedience all the more impressive. The NIV version of Hebrews 11:8 says he “obeyed and went.” There was no greater miracle in his life than that. Everything else that happened flowed from this basic decision. God called; he obeyed. That truth was the secret of his life. He stepped out in faith even though there were no guarantees about his own personal future.

Let me put it another way. Living by faith means stepping out for God and leaving the results to him. It’s no guarantee of long life and good success. You may have those blessings. But you may not.

The life of faith means, “I am going to be the man or woman God wants me to be, no matter where it leads. I don’t know the future, but I’m trusting him to work out the details. In the meantime, I step out by faith and follow where he leads me.”

That brings us to the second great truth about living by faith.

Truth #2: Living by faith means waiting on God to keep his promises.

“By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.” (Hebrews 11:9). There is within all of us a natural desire to settle down. The older I get, the less I like to move. I value coming home to the same place and the same faces every day. Several years ago we moved from Oak Park, Illinois to Tupelo, Mississippi. As we were packing, our home was filled with boxes waiting to be loaded on the moving truck. It was unsettling to look at bare walls that only a few days before were covered with familiar pictures. Suddenly that home looked less like a home and more like a building where we used to live in some distant past. Now run the clock forward 18 months. When we came back to Oak Park for a visit, we drove past our old home on Wesley Avenue. I had a strange sensation, as if I remembered living there in the distant past. It looked the same but it didn’t feel like home to me at all.

There is a certain rootlessness about our life at this point that is instructive. Now that our boys are in their twenties, they are going in all directions at once. Four years ago our oldest son left to teach English in China. He came back and another son went to China. That son came back and another son left for China. Josh met Leah, they got married and went to China for a year. Mark met Vanessa when they served on the same team in China. After they came back to the States, they got married. When Josh and Leah returned to the States two weeks ago, it was the first time in four years that we haven’t had a son in China. Two years ago our family was together for a total of three days. Last year I think we were all together for about five days. This year we will all be together for three or four days. That’s the way life is – and will be for the foreseeable future. It has hit me that home is a matter of the heart, a moving target, not so much a place as being with the people you love the most. Wherever they are – in the U.S. or in China or anywhere else – is home in the truest sense.

The rootlessness I spoke about can leave you with a vague sense of uneasiness, of trying to figure out where you belong. Multiply that feeling by a factor of 100 and spread it out over fifty years and you approximate Abraham’s situation as he came to the Promised Land. Our text tells us that he lived in tents. I know lots of people who like to camp on vacation, but I don’t know anyone who voluntarily lives in a tent as a permanent residence. Tents speak of impermanence, of the possibility of moving on at any moment, of the fact that you live on land you do not personally own.

That’s Abraham. He didn’t own anything in the Promised Land. God had promised to give him the land; yet he lived like a stranger in a foreign country. If you don’t own the land, you can’t build a permanent dwelling there.

In many ways this is even more remarkable than leaving Ur in the first place. As long as he was traveling across the desert, he could dream about the future. But when he got to Canaan, all illusions disappeared. Think of what he didn’t find:

  • No “Welcome, Abraham” sign.
  • No discount coupons from the merchants.
  • No housewarming party.
  • No visit from the Welcome Wagon.
  • No mayor with the key to the city.
  • No band playing “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
  • No ticker-tape parade.

Nobody expected him. Nobody cared that he had come. Nobody gave him anything.

God had promised him the land . . . but he had to scratch out an existence in tents. Hundreds of years would pass before the promise was completely fulfilled. Abraham never saw it happen. Neither did Isaac or Jacob.

Was Abraham in the will of God? Yes. Was he right to leave Ur? Yes. Was he doing what God wanted him to do? Yes. Why, then, was he living in tents? Because God’s timetable is not the same as ours. He’s not in a big hurry like we are. God works across the generations to accomplish his purposes; we’re worried about which dress or shirt to buy for the big party this weekend. There is a big difference in those two perspectives.

A third principle at work in Abraham’s life is the ultimate key to the life of faith.

Truth #3: Living by faith means never taking your eyes off heaven.

“For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:10). As I have mediated on this verse, it hit me that there is a certain amount of disappointment built into the life of faith. Sometimes we think, “If I follow God’s call, everything will work out and I’ll be happy all the time.” As Dr. Phil likes to say, let me know how that works out for you. By saying that Abraham was “looking forward” to a city, it really means that he never found what he was looking for in this life. This world comes with a huge helping of frustration built into the core of everything. Just recently I read about a certain baseball manager who led his team to a World Series championship. It was a happy moment, the apex of his career, the proof that he had finally arrived, that he was a success and the best in the world at that moment. The next morning as he went outside to pick up the paper, he thought to himself, “Is that all there is?” The answer is yes, that’s all there is. It’s the same way with everything we do and everything we accomplish.

We live, we die, we buy a house, we sell a house, someone moves in where we once lived. We take a job, we leave a job, someone else takes the job we used to have. And if we are fortunate enough to have a corner office with an incredible view, we should remember that someone else had it before us and someone else will have it after us. If this moment is golden for you, enjoy it but don’t grasp it too tightly because it won’t last forever.

That’s one part of the life of faith. We never reach full satisfaction in this life. “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” said Robert Browning. And that brings us to the second part of verse 10. Abraham looked for a city with foundations—that is, for a “city,” not a lonely spot in the desert. He wanted to live in a place filled with other people. He also looked for a city with “foundations,” a place with security and permanence that could not be found in a tent. That meant he was looking for a city designed and built by God. Why? Because all earthly cities eventually crumble to dust.

Not long ago I visited the ruins of the ancient city of Jericho. When most people think of Jericho, they think of the city whose walls came tumbling down in the days of Joshua. But that’s only one Jericho. Archaeologists have discovered layers of Jericho, one after another, the city having been built, destroyed, and rebuilt across the centuries. The same is true of Jerusalem. When you visit Old Jerusalem, you aren’t exactly “walking where Jesus walked.” You are actually walking thirty to seventy-five feet above where Jesus walked. According to one source, Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt at least forty-seven times in the last 3,500 years.

That’s the way it is with all earthly cities. Nothing built by man lasts forever. No wonder Abraham was looking for a city built and designed by God. Revelation 21 describes that city as “the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (v. 2). In his vision John saw a city of breathtaking beauty, shining with the glory of God, “its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (v. 11). Christians have always looked to the New Jerusalem as the final abode for the people of God, the place where we will spend eternity together in the presence of the Lord. But note this. Heaven is a city. It’s a real place filled with real people. That’s the city Abraham was looking for when he left Ur of the Chaldees.

Following God’s will doesn’t guarantee worldly success. He had his heart set on heaven, and that explains why he could:

  • Leave the beautiful city of Ur.
  • Walk away from his career.
  • Leave his friends far behind.
  • Live in tents until the end of his life.
  • Start all over again in a new land.
  • Die without seeing all that God had promised.

Abraham knew he was going to heaven, and that changed his whole perspective on life. He knew not just that he was going to die, but that after death he was going to enter a city God had designed and made.

Let me add one final thought from this passage. If you had been a consultant watching Abraham’s life, you would probably say that he committed career suicide when he left Ur of the Chaldees. It didn’t make sense at the time, and frankly, the rest of his life was never a “success” in worldly terms. Hebrews 11:10 says that Abraham was motivated by a vision of something the people around him simply couldn’t grasp. He was looking forward to something they couldn’t see at all. Following God will sometimes lead you to make decisions that those around you simply will not understand. When that happens, all you can do is to explain things as best you can, and then set off to obey God’s call, leaving the results in his hands.

“Died at Twenty-five, Buried at Seventy-five”

Let me ask a personal question: How long do you expect to live? To put it more pointedly, how many more years do you think you have left before someone holds your funeral service? Ten years? Twenty years? Thirty years? Forty years? Fifty years? Sixty years? How much of that time are you sure of? The last question is easy. You’re not sure about any of it. The truth is, you could die tomorrow – or today – from any of a thousand causes. No one knows how long he or she will live or precisely when they will die. There are no guarantees for any of us.

It’s not how long you live that matters, but what you do with the years you are given. Too many people die at age twenty-five but aren’t buried until they are seventy-five. They waste their best years in trivial pursuits, all the while missing out on the excitement of living by faith.

Here is the whole message in one sentence. Following God’s will doesn’t guarantee worldly success. The operative word is worldly. God has one view of success; the world has another. Joshua 1:8 reminds us that those who meditate on God’s Word will be “prosperous and successful.” Psalm 1 contrasts the fool who looks to the wicked for advice with the godly who builds his life on the Word of God. The latter will be like “a tree planted by streams of waters” (v. 3a). God rewards such a man in this way: “In all that he does, he prospers” (v. 3b). But let’s not confuse that with the false notion that doing God’s will leads to a trouble-free life. Abraham lived in tents all his life. He died without receiving all that God had promised to him. In many ways you could say that by leaving Ur, he forfeited any chance at worldly greatness. Never again would he know the stability and settled prosperity that he had in Ur. From the day he left until the day he died, Abraham was a sojourner, a tent-dweller, a man living on land he did not own.

If it’s safety you want and a guarantee of earthly success, then you’ll have to look somewhere else. But if you are willing to follow Jesus, I can promise you that you’ll never be disappointed in him and your life will not be boring.

If you ever decide to make God’s will the great priority of your life, you will discover that it is indeed an incredible journey. Like Abraham of old, your search for God’s will will lead you out of your comfort zone into the exciting arena of living by faith. Along the way, you will discover that you can indeed survive without absolute certainty about what tomorrow will bring. You may even learn to enjoy living on the edge between faith and absolute disaster. In any case, knowing God’s will will cease to be an academic exercise, like doing your homework before going to bed at night. Instead, it will become the most exciting adventure you’ve ever known as you set out into the unknown to follow God wherever he leads you