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Leave Everything Behind – Part 1

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz
The Truth Network Radio
August 27, 2023 3:00 pm

Leave Everything Behind – Part 1

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz

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Living in the Light
Anne Graham Lotz
Living in the Light
Anne Graham Lotz

This is Anne Graham Lotz. I want you to get to know God personally, intimately, as His friend, to live in the light of His Word. I set out on a pilgrimage to get to know God. And the thing that triggered my journey was my study of the life of Abraham. And Abraham was someone who set out and got to know God. And in the end of his life, God described his relationship with Abraham as a friendship. And it wasn't Abraham who said, God is my friend.

It was God who said, Abraham is my friend. And I thought, I want to know God like that. I want to know Him and to make Him known. I want to receive His blessing and be a channel of blessing for others. I want to receive and live up to the full potential that He had in mind for me when He created me.

And that is my magnificent obsession. And I'm going to be urging you every which way I know to embrace the magnificent obsession for yourself. That you would pursue knowing God and that you would want to know Him better today than you did yesterday and better tomorrow than you do today. And all of this would continue to grow in our knowledge of Him. But in order to do that, we have to leave everything behind and let everything go and trust everything completely to Him. And cast everything out that might hinder us in that pursuit of knowing Him. We have to lift everything up in prayer and we have to lay everything down in absolute surrender.

And that's where we're going. I remember years ago now I was giving a message at this large secular convention and it was their prayer breakfast. And so, naive me, I thought, prayer breakfast? You know I could give a message about Jesus.

And so I did. I just did my best to exalt Jesus. And when I finished my message, the emcee got in the podium and he stood there and he put his head on his hand like this and he looked down at me and he said very scathingly, Mrs. Lotts, we think you need to understand that we all have our own gods. And some of us call Him Muhammad, and some of us call Him Buddha, and some of us call Him Messiah, some of us may call Him Jesus.

And I didn't say anything because I finished my message, but inside myself I was thinking, I don't want to know God like that. I don't want to know God the way some people say He might be like. I don't want to know Him by the name some people call Him. I don't want to know Him by hearsay. I want to know Him as He is.

If there is a God up in heaven, then surely we can know Him if He reveals Himself and I want to know Him by the names He calls Himself. I want to know God as He is. I want to know Him like Elijah knew Him in His power. And I want to know Him like Isaiah knew Him in His glory. And I want to know Him like Jeremiah knew Him in His faithfulness. And I want to know Him like Mary knew Him in His humanity. You know the Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

He hasn't changed. So if I don't know Him in the way that those people did, then it's nothing wrong with God, something must be wrong with me. Would you open your Bibles to Genesis chapter 12? And we're going to begin with leaving everything behind. And this is of course Abraham's call to follow and pursue God. Genesis chapter 12 beginning in verse 1. The Lord had said to Abram, leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. So Abraham left as the Lord had told him and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarah, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran and they set out for the land of Canaan and they arrived there. Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Marah at Shechem. The Canaanites were there in the land but the Lord appeared to Abram and said to your offspring I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.

Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev. Now there was a famine in the land and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. As he was about to enter Egypt he said to his wife Sarah I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you they will say this is his wife.

Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you. When Abram came to Egypt the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman. And when Pharaoh's officials saw her they praised her to Pharaoh and she was taken into his palace.

He treated Abram well for her sake and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, men servants and maid servants and camels. But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram's wife Sarah. So Pharaoh summoned Abram what have you done to me he said why didn't you tell me she was your wife.

Why did you say she is my sister so that I took her to be my wife. Now then here is your wife take her and get out of Egypt. Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men and they sent him on his way with his wife and everything he had. So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev with his wife and everything he had and Lot went with him.

Abraham had become very wealthy in livestock and silver and gold. From Negev he went from place to place until they came to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord. Years ago the Romans set out to conquer England. History tells us that they laid siege to the British Isles and they just put up a naval blockade to try to choke England off from the rest of the world. And England refused to surrender. And then one morning the English people looked out of the cottages that were on the coast and they saw the Roman ships out on the sea set on fire. They were ablaze.

And the Romans were coming to shore in row boats and the English knew that the Romans would either conquer them or die trying because they burned their ships behind them. And I think that's a brief illustration of what's taking place in Abram's life as he seeks to pursue God and to know him and to receive his fullness of his blessing in his life and be a channel of blessing to others. He is leaving everything behind and he's burning his bridges. He's burning his ships and just leaving it all behind that he might pursue knowing God. And do you want to know God? Do you want to know God as he is? You know, today, very much like that emcee told me, we all seem to have our own gods and we hear about all these different gods and all these different religions today. But does your heart burn to know the one true living God? And know him personally and not know him in the status quo like people who just warm the pews and, you know, just go with the same old, same old. But do you really want to know him as some of those Old Testament characters did?

You want to know him like Abraham knew him. Then you have to leave everything behind. And you have to leave behind the familiar. And that's what I'm describing Ur as, just a familiar place. It's your comfort zone.

What is your comfort zone? You know, going to church on Sunday and you've been going to that church how long? You've been members for a long time and comfortable even in your ministry opportunities teaching Sunday school and the way you've been doing it.

Comfortable with the gospel, comfortable with the scriptures, comfortable with your prayer life, comfortable with your relationships, comfortable with the opportunities that you've had and you're just living a very familiar, comfortable life. And Abraham was too. He was living in Ur of the Chaldees. Ur, archaeologists tell us, was a very cosmopolitan, sophisticated, civilized city. It was sort of like Atlanta or maybe New York. It was a hub of international activity. They had a medical school there. They had a university.

They had a library of over 200,000 tablets. They had wide boulevards that crisscrossed the city that were lined with palm trees. The houses were plastered, whitewashed and then painted in pastel colors. And I kid you not, the houses had central heating, running water, indoor plumbing. This was not some back wood city.

This was a very comfortable, beautiful, exciting place to live. And Abraham was living in Ur. That was his comfort zone. And we're told that his father was Terah and the New Testament tells us that Terah was an idolater. So Abram was raised in a family where they all had their own gods.

And he was familiar with the other religions and other gods and other ways of worshiping God and familiar with comfortable things and an easy life. I wonder if he just began to get restless in his spirit. And the Bible doesn't tell us this, but from what transpired, I'm guessing that he did. Maybe it was when he saw the sun come up every morning and go down every evening. Maybe when he observed the stars and they're all in their patterns. Maybe it was when he witnessed the migratory habits of the birds and maybe he saw the birth of a baby. And was there something in him that just said, you know, there's got to be something or someone out there that's bigger than me. And I wonder when he went to cut a business deal and he had opportunity to cheat the other person. Something inside him said, don't do that.

That's not right. And he didn't. And afterwards he was thinking, Abraham, you know, why didn't you do that?

Because you could have made more money if you just cheated him. And how did he know it was wrong? Was there a witness in creation and a witness in his conscience that was telling him there was someone or something out there that was much more real than these idols of wood and stone and things that were in his house? And I don't know what it was. I just sense that there was a restlessness in his spirit and that he was longing and reaching out to God because God just leans out of heaven.

And out of all the people living on planet earth, think about it. All the people living on planet earth, God just leans out of heaven and invades Abraham's life. And I think there had to be a restlessness. Have you been restless in your spirit? Is there something stirring you up?

You just want more. And there was something in Abraham that was just wanting more than what he had at that point. And God leaned out of heaven and gave him a personal command. Abraham, I want you to leave your country, your kindred and your father's house. I want you to leave everything behind Abraham. You've got to leave your comfort zone. If you want to know me, if you want to make me known, if you want to be blessed, if you want to be a blessing to others, then you have to leave your comfort zone.

Get out of Ur and leave it all behind. Listen to me. What's your comfort zone? That which is familiar to you. You have to leave it if you really want to know God in his fullness. And I don't mean to leave it willy-nilly, you know, like you're just going to jump off some building or something. I mean when he commands you, then you leave. It's like Peter in Matthew chapter 14 in the boat.

That was his comfort zone. He was a fisherman. He was familiar with the inside of a boat. Even when it was in the midst of a storm on Galilee. He had been in many storms on Galilee. So he's there with the other disciples in the midst of a storm and he sees Jesus walking on the water. And he says, Jesus, is that you?

And Jesus says, yes. And he says, if it's you, bid me come. And Jesus said, Peter, you can come. And Peter stepped out of his comfort zone. He climbed over the edge of the boat and he walked on the water. And you know we focus on Peter, you know, taking his eyes off Jesus and crashing in the waves and Jesus pulling him up. But don't ever forget that Peter walked on the water. And then they walked back on the water, I'm assuming, to get back into the boat. And then do you remember when Jesus rebuked them and he said, O ye of little faith? I don't think he was rebuking Peter.

Was he rebuking the other disciples? O ye of little faith, stuck in your comfort zone. You could have experienced the thrill and the adventure of walking on water if you'd just been willing to get out of your boat. And you know, the disciples in the boat, they could know Jesus and they could know God. And you can know God in your boat, in your comfort zone, but it's in sort of a limited way and a small way. It's not the magnificent obsession.

Peter embraced the magnificent obsession. He wanted to know God right out there on the surface of the water. And that was Abraham. And he had received a personal command to leave everything behind. I know in my life I've received that command.

I wonder if God would give it to you. It's a personal command. 19 times in these few verses God uses the pronoun I or you. This is God speaking personally to Abraham. God speaks personally to you and me through his word. Several years ago I was in a circle of people and included several people, including my family and my parents, my mother and father. And my father was speaking to everybody in the circle. And then he looked right at me and he said, and I knew he was still speaking to the circle, but he was addressing me and now he's speaking directly to me and had my name on it. And, you know, when we open our Bibles, God is speaking to everybody because the Bible is God's word. But there are times when a verse or a phrase just leaps up off the page and it's God's word with your name on it.

This was God's word with Abraham's name on it. I wonder if God would say to you, if you want to pursue him, and if you want to know him in his fullness, if you want to embrace the magnificent obsession, then you've got to leave behind the familiar. Leave everything. Your country, your kindred, your father's house, the way you were raised, some of the things that have been programmed into you, mindsets, attitudes. And it doesn't have to be dramatic like going to Asia or going to Africa. It can be just leaving the comfort zone of your home and going across the street to your unsaved neighbor and sharing Christ. It can be just leaving the comfort zone of your bed early in the morning where you want 15 more minutes of sleep and you get out of that comfortable place in order to pursue knowing God on your knees.

Do you see? You leave your comfort zone. You leave behind the familiar.

That's a personal command. It brings with it, oh listen, brings with it a radical promise. And this was the promise. Abraham, if you leave everything and leave the familiar, then I'm going to make you into a great nation. And we know that the Jews and Arabs all come from Abraham. God made him into a great nation and that was God's promise that I'm going to enlarge your position. And he says, I'll bless you. And I think specifically that's referring to giving Abraham the desire of his heart when he gave him Isaac.

That was a personal blessing. In other words, I'm going to deepen your satisfaction and I'm going to make your name great. And there's no other name in all of human history greater than Abraham's unless it's Jesus' name.

And so it was, I'm going to increase your reputation. And then he says, you're going to be a blessing. And not only through his example and all that he started with the nation of Israel, but you think of it four thousand years later.

We're studying Abraham. He's still a blessing to us today. He received a blessing and he's still being a blessing to us.

So in other words, I'm going to change your ambition, Abram. It's to be a blessing. And I'm going to bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. I'm going to give you a new identification with God. So God was saying, I'm going to give you such a close identification with me that the people who bless you, I will consider blessing me. And the people who curse you, I'll consider cursing me. And God all wrapped up and entwined in Abram's life. And then he said, all peoples on earth are going to be blessed because of you. I'm going to pour out my blessing on you. And Abraham, one day, generations from now, the entire world will see Jesus reflected in your family.

Whoa, that's a radical promise. You know, a couple of years ago, there's a little book, The Prayer of Jabez, that became very popular. Millions of people reading it and praying that God would enlarge their territory. And I read the book.

I thought it was terrific. I've prayed the prayer. I hope you have. But this isn't a promise to enlarge your territory. This is a promise to enlarge you. To increase the dimension of your life. And not like the Apostle Paul or Saul on Damascus Road where he had to be sort of turned around.

I know none of you is a Saul of Tarsus. But it can make a radical difference in your life. Enlarge the dimension of your life and enrich you and broaden you and deepen you. It's a radical promise. And the bottom line element of the promise, of course, is just that God is saying, I'm going to give you myself. And you're going to be blessed. And I'm going to bring you into a close, personal relationship with me. And you're going to be a blessing. You're going to get to know me.

You're going to make me known. You can live up to the full potential that I had in mind for you when I brought you into existence. That's the blessing. God himself is the blessing. And so Abraham in verse 4, he left.

And it required effort and energy and planning. When did you decide that you would leave everything behind and leave the familiar? Leave er and just seek to get to know God? Now something that quickens your heart and you embraced it.

And you said, I don't want to be just like everybody else, all the Christians around me. I want God in his fullness. I want to know him. I want to make him known. I want to receive his blessing in order to be a blessing. And Abraham did.

And it requires planning, doesn't it? Putting one foot in front of the other and Abraham left er. He left that which was familiar.

He left his comfort zone. And then he went to Haran. And this isn't readily apparent from chapter 12 so turn back with me to chapter 11 in verse 27. It says, this is the account of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans in the land of his birth. Verse 31. So Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, son of Haran, his daughter-in-law Sarah, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set up from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. And Terah lived 205 years and he died in Haran.

You get the picture? God leans out of heaven. Abram's living in Ur. And God says, I want you to leave everything behind.

I want you to leave your country and your kindred and your father's house. And Abram gets up and he leaves. And he takes with him his father and his brother and his nephew. He's got a little entourage with him. What gives? God told him to leave everything.

Was it that he shared it with his father? And his father said, well, you know, I've retired from my business. I don't have anything to do. That sounds exciting. I think we'll go with you. And his brother said, yes, and maybe, you know, we can find a business adventure and I've already finished here.

I can close this up and we'll just go with you. And that's not what God said. And so Abram left Ur when he came to Haran. That was 600 miles from Ur but it was still 200 miles from Canaan. He stopped.

He went half way. Haran is a place of compromise. And I think it's wonderful when our families join us in pursuing God. But listen, be careful that you don't hook your pursuit of God with a family member because when they stop, you may stop. And this is a personal relationship between you and God. And yes, we want our husbands to be with us or our wives and we want our children to come along or our grandchildren or our parents. But bottom line, this is your magnificent obsession. This is you seeking to know God and embrace him.

Abram had kept his family around him. When they stopped, he stopped. When did you start in your pursuit to know God? A watershed when God came down and you knew his call in your life. Did you stop halfway?

Are you in some way sitting on the fence? You didn't mean to. Maybe you found out you were pregnant and you had a baby and maybe a good job opportunity opened up or maybe there was some other distraction and you just started out and then you stopped halfway. Abram stopped. And chapter 12 verse 1 says the Lord had said to Abram.

That's in the past tense. And I don't know if God was reminding Abram of what he had said. I don't know if God called Abram twice.

And so I don't know that you need to look for another call. Did God call you in the past? Has he called you to follow him? Has he called you to leave everything behind and pursue him? Has he called you in some unique form of ministry or something and you started out and then you quit halfway? Well I'm praying that this will be a wake-up call and God in a sense will recall you to himself.

Now here's Ann with this final word. Thousands of years after Abraham, Jesus admonished the people crowding around him with words that even now to echo throughout the herons of our lives. Jesus said in Luke 14 33, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Jesus made it clear. You and I must give up everything, not half of everything if we want to truly know and follow him.

Abraham was 75 years old when he finally left Haran and resumed his pursuit of God. Do you think you're too old and it's just too hard to embrace the God-filled life? Are you even now wishing you'd been given this challenge 10 or 20 years ago? Are you feeling too tired, too weak, too slow, too dull, too forgetful to leave everything behind and begin? Or do you think you're too young, even now thinking as you listen to me you won't really take it to heart until after you graduate from school or get settled in a good job or get married and have a family? Remember, God's timing is perfect. He knows what time it is in your life and he's issuing this challenge to you right now. If you want to truly know him in a vibrant personal relationship, then you must leave everything behind, the familiar, the places of fence-sitting compromise and your fear of living a life that will be very different from the people around you. Is that what you're afraid of?

Are you afraid of being so different that you draw the stairs of your coworkers that someone will raise an eyebrow? The best way for you and me to overcome our fear of those people so unlike us who surround us in our everyday lives is to keep our focus on the Lord and cultivate his presence in our lives. To embrace the God-filled life, to make him your magnificent obsession, you must get to know God as he is in the pages of your Bible. Read it, study it, apply it, live by its light. 2 Corinthians 3.18 says, And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.

His likeness. As you grow not only in your faith but in your Christian character, others will see Christ in you. God's promise to Abraham was for him to be a channel of God's blessing to the entire world.

It enlarged the scope of Abraham's life beyond anything he could have thought to ask for. What blessings are you missing because you refuse to leave the familiar? It's time to leave emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and culturally. It's time for you to get out of there, leave it all behind, and embrace the God-filled life. Make knowing God your magnificent obsession. You've been listening to Living in the Light with Anne Graham Lotz. And if you'd like to share today's message, go to, where you'll find much to assist you in getting into the Word of God and praying and sharing Christ with others. Join us again here next week for Living in the Light.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-27 16:32:09 / 2023-08-27 16:42:47 / 11

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