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The Test of a World Changer - II

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
October 5, 2020 3:00 am

The Test of a World Changer - II

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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October 5, 2020 3:00 am

Pastor Greg Laurie is currently bringing a compelling series called World Changers. He says those that change their world for God "turn setbacks into stepping stones." And today on A NEW BEGINNING, his case-in-point is Abraham, the father of the faith.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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The following message from Pastor Greg Laurie is made possible by some special friends of this ministry. Pastor Greg? I wanted to say a special word of thanks to the Harvest Partners who make this ministry possible.

Next time you're online, check out Pastor Greg's personal blog at blog.GregLaurie.com. God knows what you can handle. So you're going through a test right now and you're saying, I can't handle this.

Yes you can. Otherwise God will not allow you to go through it. If God knows we can handle a certain challenge, we should take His word for it. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie urges us to trust Him. And whenever the Lord allows His children to go through fiery trials, He always keeps an eye on them and a finger on the thermostat.

He won't let it get too hot for you. God knows what you can handle. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace how sweet the sound. Again you hear all the angels are singing.

This is the day, the day when life begins. When we teach our kids to ride a bike or tie their shoe, often they reach a point of frustration and say, I can't, I just can't do it. Well we know they can and we urge them to keep at it. But when we reach a point of frustration and we say we can't, we forget that important lesson of perseverance. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us trust in God. He can make a way when there seems to be no way. We're in Pastor Greg's series called World Changers.

This is the day, the day when life begins. You know when you think of the wilderness you think of the significant role it plays in the Scripture. Of course our Lord as we pointed out was tempted in the wilderness. Moses went into the wilderness. David spent extended time in the wilderness. Even the apostle Paul went to the wilderness. The wilderness is sort of a picture of testing in the Bible.

People would go there when they were being prepared for something else. And that brings us to our message today in our World Changer series that I am calling The Test of a World Changer. And I would like you to turn to Hebrews chapter 11 and Genesis chapter 22. And we are going to talk about the test of a world changer. Pause for a moment of prayer. Father I know there are people here right now that are going through a time of trial and testing and difficulty.

And they are wondering why this is happening. We are praying as we open your Word that we will gain biblical perspective and understand there is a reason for the testings that come in our lives. So speak to us as we look at Scripture. We ask it now in Jesus' name.

Amen. So we are going to focus in this message on Abraham for one last time. I have done three separate messages on Abraham because he so dominates Hebrews 11. And to the point he so dominates the book of Genesis. His very name is synonymous with faith.

So we are going to look at him one more time and we are going to observe one of the greatest acts of faith in human history. And that is when God asked Abraham to take his son. His only son. His son whom he loved and offer him as a burnt offering to me. Look at Hebrews 11 starting in verse 17. By faith Abraham when he was tested offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. Of whom it was said in Isaac shall your seed be called. Concluding that God was able to raise him up from the dead from which he also received him in a figurative sense. We will stop there. Now let's shift for a moment over to Genesis 22.

I had you turn there as well. And let's read what actually happened in the Genesis account of when Abraham offered up Isaac. Genesis 22 verse 1. God tested Abraham's faith and obedience and said Abraham. Abraham replied yes Lord here I am. God says take your son.

Your only son. Yes Isaac whom you love so much and go to the land of Moriah and sacrifice him. There is a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will point out to you. Wow. Again if you want to be a world changer and live by faith know that your faith is going to be tested. But this was an epic test. This is a test that very few people would face.

In fact in many ways you would have to say to be tested on this level was quite an honor. Because the Lord knew Abraham could handle it. And guess what. God knows what you can handle. God knows what you can handle. So you are going through a test right now and you are saying I can't handle this.

Yes you can. Otherwise God would not allow you to go through it. And whenever the Lord allows His children to go through fiery trials He always keeps an eye on them and a finger on the thermostat.

He won't let it get too hot for you. But He knew that Abraham would rally. He knew Abraham would pass this test.

He knew that Abraham would take this setback and turn it into an opportunity. And listen to this. A disability can become an ability when dedicated to God. So I don't know what you are facing right now. You are facing a hardship. A tragedy. The death of a loved one.

Maybe you have had to go through life with some kind of a disability. Here is the bottom line. You can't control what is going to happen in your life.

All you get to do is decide how you are going to react to what comes your way. And world changers turn seeming setbacks into stepping stones. So coming back to Abraham. God asked him to make the greatest sacrifice imaginable. Because you see finally his son was born.

Sarah actually did bring forth that child in her old age. And he became the light of Abraham's life. Abraham doted on that boy. In fact the very name that they gave him says it all. The name was Isaac which means laughter.

They loved that young boy. So now Abraham is going to be tested again. And he is going to go through one of the most difficult tests that he has ever faced. And that is what is he going to do when God asks him to offer his son. Now by the way this was one of many tests that came the way of Abraham. Number one there was the family test. When he was called to leave his land and go to a new land.

We might give him a passing grade on that. See he did obey but not completely. He brought along his nephew Lot which became a problem later in life.

Number two there was the famine test. A famine came into the land. And how would Abraham react to that? Well he went down to Egypt as you know. Lied about his wife. Got rebuked by the Pharaoh.

That didn't go very well. So we might say he sort of failed that test. Then there was a fellowship test where he gave Lot his nephew first choice over the land. He knew he had to part company with his nephew. So he said I will tell you what Lot. You go to the right I will go to the left.

You go to the left I will go to the right. You choose the land that you want. He put the needs of others above himself. And by the way he passed that with flying colors. Then there was a fatherhood test when Sarah got impatient with God. Of course we already saw what happened there with the birth of Ishmael. So that became a problem. But now we come to the ultimate test and God says I want you to bring your son. Your only son.

Let me suggest something and I can't say this with certainty. But I think it may be true. Could it be that Isaac had actually become the most important thing in Abraham's life? Let me put it another way.

Could it be that Isaac, that son that Abraham and Sarah had waited for for so long, actually became the idol of his life? Did you know that a lot of things can become idols in our life? Not just bad things.

But sometimes even good things that are out of their proper place. For instance people will say for me family is number one. It is all about family. Nothing is more important than family.

Actually that is not true. God should be number one in your life. Not family. If you are making family your idol it can become a problem in your own life. Some people say we can't go to church anymore.

Why? Well we have a newborn. We don't want to put the newborn in the nursery.

They might get sick. A couple of years pass by. Why haven't I seen you at church? Well we have a toddler now. We don't want to put the toddler in church. Put the kid in Sunday school man.

Listen. The kid needs to learn the Word of God just like you need to learn the Word of God. And by the way sometimes people don't like it when we don't let them bring their small children into the sanctuary. And actually we are doing that for the children as well as the rest of us. Because sometimes children will misbehave. But we want the children to be ministered to on a level that they can understand so they can look forward to going to church instead of having to sit in the service and be quiet while that bald man drones on. You are kind of making church a miserable experience for your kid. You know.

Let them go have fun and crayons and drawing and toys and hear little Bible stories on their level. But don't let your family become the idol of your life. For other people their body can become their idol. Everything is about their body.

Everything is about their appearance. For other people an object can become an idol and take the place of God. It can be a car.

It can be a career. It can be a house. It can be a cell phone. So maybe God would come to you and say, Take your cell phone.

Your only cell phone that you love and offer it to me. Yes God tested Abraham's faith. He came and said, Abraham. Abraham said, Here I am. The Lord said, Take your son.

Your son that you love so much and offer him as a burnt offering to me. Now let me say at the outset it was never God's intention to have Abraham kill Isaac. Rather it was a test that God knew Abraham would pass. And this is why Abraham was effectively a superhero of the faith because he believed even if Isaac died that God would raise him from the dead.

In other words no matter what happened God was in control. So the Lord says, Take your son. Your only son. Abraham said, Son come on.

We are going to take a little walk together. And as they make their way up to the mount it is beginning to dawn on Isaac what is about to take place. Bringing me to my fourth point. World changers give everything back to God because everything is from God. World changers give everything back to God because everything is from God.

Listen. Your children are a gift to you from God. You don't own them.

They belong to Him. So our objective is to present our children to the Lord. To lead our children to the Lord. Everything that you have. Everything that you have acquired in life. Every possession that has been given to you by God. Every talent.

Every skill. Every ability you have is a gift to you from God. And it is always a good thing to present these things back to God and say, Lord you gave them to me and I give them back to you.

Are you willing to do that? Abraham was. We all have an Isaac in life so to speak. Something that we love so dearly. It is a good thing to present that to the Lord. Because I will tell you what.

There is no safer place than in the hands of God. When Abraham took his son to the top of the mountain, how old was Isaac? A newborn?

Maybe a toddler? Well Pastor Greg addresses that in just a moment. You may be surprised. It is reassuring to hear when a listener has been impacted by the ministry of Pastor Greg. My story with Pastor Greg goes back 25 years to a promise keepers conference at the L.A.

Coliseum. And Pastor Greg was speaking at that conference. I sat through most of it but at the very end of that conference I made a commitment to live the Christian life. During that time a hunger began to come into my heart to study the word. I began to be very convicted by some of the things that I had been doing. Music I was listening to, movies I was watching, the way I used my language. All of those things began to change. But yet I was still in a very difficult situation.

I was in my mid 30's living in Southern California. And I was at the corner of Oso Parkway and the 405. And Pastor Greg had a message around lunch time. I found his radio station and I was listening to him. And he had a message about the battle between the flesh and the spirit. And that message is exactly what I needed at that time. And so there's two events in a row where Pastor Greg came into my life. And that message that I heard at the radio really encouraged me and helped me to understand that I was going to be in a battle.

But that Christ had the victory in that. And so here I am 25 years later, my wife and I are involved in ministry in our church. Just want to thank you Pastor Greg for being faithful, blessings to you and your ministry. When we hear from you, it's not only a blessing, it also confirms that the program is touching lives. You can leave a message for Pastor Greg at 1-866-871-1144.

Once again, that's 866-871-1144. We're considering the faith of Abraham today as Pastor Greg brings a message called the test of a world changer. Let's continue. So here they're making their way up to the mount. And we have a beautiful picture of what happened at the cross of Calvary. I think this is one of the reasons this story is in the Bible. Because it showed a father who was willing to take the greatest step of obedience to God.

And it also shows a story of what happened when Jesus died on the cross for us. So father and son are making their way up. Father is willing to sacrifice his son. Son is willing to be sacrificed. And by the way, how old was Isaac when this happened?

I bring this up because sometimes you've seen religious paintings and it will show Abraham bringing Isaac. And he's just a little tyke. Just a little guy. Obviously unable to fend for himself. Most Bible commentators believe at this particular time Isaac was around 18-20 years old. Some think he may have been around the age of 33.

The Jewish historian Josephus thought he was 25. Whatever age it is, one thing is clear, Isaac didn't have to do this if he didn't want to. He could have said, dad, you know what, you're going to offer me on the altar? Look, you're an old dude. Why don't we offer you instead? You haven't got that much longer anyway, dad. Come on.

Forget this. He didn't have to do it. But the son willingly went. And isn't that a perfect picture of what happened at the cross? The father who loved his son so much offered him up. For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son. Yet the son, knowing what was about to happen, willingly went. Jesus said, no one takes my life from me.

I give it of my own accord. Exactly what happened at the cross. So here's Isaac laying on the altar now.

The father raises up the knife. He's prepared to sacrifice his son. And suddenly we read in Genesis 20 to 11. At that moment the angel of the Lord shouted to him from heaven, Abraham, Abraham. Yes, Abraham said. I'm listening. Lay down the knife.

Which he did. And then the angel said, don't hurt the boy in any way. For now I know you truly fear God. And you've not withheld even your beloved son from me. Notice that it doesn't say it was an angel of the Lord. It says it was the angel of the Lord. And notice the angel said, you've not withheld your beloved son from me.

But wait a second. Who commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son? God did. And yet this angel in quotes says, you've not withheld your son from me.

You say, what is your point? I don't think this was an angel. I think this was Jesus stepping in and telling him to stop. It is called a Christophany. A Christophany is an appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament. Of course you all know Christ pre-existed before Bethlehem because He is part of the Godhead.

He has always been just like the Father and the Holy Spirit. So periodically He appears in the Old Testament. I think when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked through the fiery furnace and the king said, there is a fourth one walking with them that looks like the Son of God. I believe that was Jesus making an appearance.

And I think this is another one of those appearances. And here is why I think this is important because Jesus one day said, Abraham lived to see my day. And then they said, what you have met Abraham? He said, before Abraham was I am. So that means that there was a moment when Jesus met Abraham. Now there is a number of incidents in the old patriarch's life we could maybe point to. But I think this may be the very moment when Christ stepped in and told him to not sacrifice his son Isaac.

But listen. When Jesus Himself went to the cross He took the knife. He took the wrath of God. There was no last minute reprieve.

There was no stopping. The full impact of God's wrath came in full force upon Jesus Christ who died there in our place. He died as a substitution. He died the death that you and I should have died.

So we would not have to. This is because God loves us. God was effectively saying, I would rather die than to live without you. I love you so much I am willing to sacrifice my own son on the cross so you can enter into a relationship with me.

Let me ask this in closing. Do you have this relationship with God right now? You know maybe you have made a mess of your life. You have done things you should never have done. You have said things you should have never said. You have made horrible mistakes and you don't see how good could ever come out of it.

But listen to this. God can take your mess and turn it into a message. God can take your past. He can forgive it and transform you. Remember as we look here in Hebrews 11 at these people they made mistakes. They fell short. They were messed up just like you and I are. But yet they are remembered in this way because they dedicated their lives to the Lord.

Have you done that yet? Do you know with complete certainty that your sin is forgiven and that Jesus Christ is living inside of you? And if not would you like Him to come into your life? This is why He died on the cross. So that barrier that separates you from God could be removed and so you could be forgiven of all of your sin and so you could go to heaven when you die. If you don't know for sure that Jesus is in your life.

If you have never asked Him to forgive you of your sin. If you want to go to heaven when you die I would like to give you an opportunity to do that as we pray together. Let's all bow our heads. Everybody pray. Father I pray now for everyone here and everyone that is watching and listening. Help them to see their need for Jesus and help them to come to You and believe in You. For we ask it in Jesus' name.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important closing prayer. And if you'd like to make a change in your relationship with the Lord, Pastor Greg will help you do that in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes. If you weren't able to hear Pastor Greg's full presentation today, you can get caught up by hearing the message again online at harvest.org. Or listen by way of our Harvest mobile app.

The title to look for is The Test of a World Changer. Or call us for a CD copy at 1-800-821-3300. We're here anytime 24-7 to take your call.

Again dial 1-800-821-3300. And then we want to make available a brand new book by Jeff and Shanti Feldhahn called Thriving in Love and Money. Jeff and Shanti, it isn't your typical book about money. It's not a budget plan or a saving strategy or a general money management.

Pastor Greg? Yes, instead of that, what you've discovered together about money, giving, budgeting, et cetera, is... ...ville and blank here. Well, the big picture is that we found, and this blows my mind and it blows a lot of pastors' minds, the greatest obstacle to all of the budgeting, to the financial freedom, everything that a pastor wants his people to be in his church, to be generous, to be tithing, to be saving more than they spend and getting out of debt, the greatest obstacle to all of that is the isn't that you don't know how to budget, although you may not, right?

You may need help. The greatest obstacle is the inability of a husband and wife to sit down at the kitchen table and talk about money. So this is a communication issue. This is a communication issue. And so that's the answer to your question, is it really is about the ability to understand all that.

It's not about the money stuff. Well, what is it about? That was what the research project was, and that's the... Essentially, it came down into what are those things, and we identified those five categories that really, really make a difference. It's this breakthrough, crazy, really surprisingly simple thing that blows open the doors to this incredible opportunity for money to be an opportunity, not for conflict, but for connection, which is huge for a lot of people right now, especially right now.

We need that. So I'm speaking with Shanti and Jeff Feldhahn, and they've written a book called Thriving in Love and Money, subtitle five, Game-Changing Insights About Your Relationship, Your Money, and Yourself. And as you can see, we are talking about money, but in some ways we aren't.

We're talking about communication, talking about relationship, we're talking about understanding one another, listening to one another, and much more. But it's all interwoven in topics of finances and other areas as well. And so we want to send you your own copy for your gift of any size to our ministry here at A New Beginning, because as you know, we love to teach the Word of God. This is just an illustration of that, where we're helping you to see how Scripture applies to all areas of your life, including your finances. And we also proclaim the Gospel and give people an opportunity to believe in Jesus. So for whatever you send, we'll invest it in this ministry, and we'll get you your own copy of this book by Shanti and Jeff Feldhahn, Thriving in Love and Money.

Yeah, that's right. We have a copy reserved for you. Just get in touch and ask for it. We're sending it to say thank you for your donation. That helps us continue to bring Pastor Greg's teaching your way each day on this station. We need your help to make that a reality, so thanks for contacting us today.

And be sure to ask for this new book, Thriving in Love and Money. You can write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514, or call 1-800-821-3300. We're here to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Just dial 1-800-821-3300 or go online to Harvest.org. Pastor Greg, you've mentioned how someone can become a Christian with just a simple prayer. Maybe somebody would like to do that right now. Could you help them?

Sure, I'd love to. A simple prayer is right. In fact, I would like to just pray a prayer, and I would ask you to pray it after me right now. I pray these words, Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, but I also know that you are the savior because you died on the cross for my sin, and you rose again from the dead. Jesus, come into my life and forgive me of every sin I've ever committed.

I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing this prayer. Thank you for answering this prayer, Lord, and I pray all of this in Jesus' name.

Amen. If you just prayed that prayer and meant it, I want you to know on the authority of Scripture, God Almighty has heard your prayer, and He will answer this prayer. You are now a newly minted child of God, so congratulations.

You've made the right decision, and welcome to the family of God. I want to send you a special gift because of that prayer you've just prayed. It's called the New Believer's Growth Packet, and in it is a copy of the New Testament in a very understandable translation called the New Living Translation. It also is filled with hundreds of notes that I wrote that will encourage you in this commitment you've made to follow Christ, and there's some other outstanding materials in this little packet I'll send you as well. So order your copy today, and let me be the first to say to you congratulations and welcome to the family of God. And to get that New Believer's Growth Packet, just get in touch, and we'll be glad to send it right out. You can write a new beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California 92514. Or call 1-800-821-3300.

Or call anytime 24-7 at 1-800-821-3300. Or go online to harvest.org and click the words, Know God. Well, next time Pastor Greg points out the significance of a certain midnight wrestling match between one of our spiritual forefathers and a heavenly being. Fascinating study coming your way next time here on A New Beginning. The preceding message from Greg Laurie was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for Pastor Greg's free daily email devotions at harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-23 23:04:23 / 2024-02-23 23:15:32 / 11

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