Pastor, author, and Bible teacher, Alan Wright. If that's the interpretation of the story, then there's not much good news here. In fact, as I was talking to a family member just this weekend, said, What are you preaching about? And I told her, and she said, Oh, I hate that story. I said, Well, come to church.
Maybe you'll change your mind. That's Pastor Alan Wright. Welcome to another message of good news that will help you see your life in a whole new light. I'm Daniel Britt, excited for you to hear the teaching today in the series called Providence as presented at Rinaldo Church in North Carolina. If you're not able to stay with us throughout today's entire program, I want to make sure you know how to get our special resource right now. It can be yours for your donation this month to Alan Wright Ministries.
So as you listen to today's message, go deeper in your study as we send you today's special offer. Contact us at PastorAlan.org. That's PastorAlan.org. Or call 877-544-4860.
877-544-4860. More on that later in the program. But now, let's get started with today's teaching. Here is Alan Wright. Okay, beloved, are you ready for some good news?
Yes! God's already in your future. And therefore, He can provide what you don't know that you need but will need. In other words, God's got this.
We're starting a new series. It's on Providence. Providence, which to think about is to think about God's genius and love and power and commitment to provide the right time in the best way what you need for your benefit and for His glory. And the first place that this description of God being a provider happens is in an intriguing and if you don't understand it, disturbing story that is found in Genesis chapter 22. After these things, God tested Abraham and said to him, Abraham, he said, here I am. He said, take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you. So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son, Isaac, and he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
On the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, stay here with the donkey. I and the boy will go over there and I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac, his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife.
So they went, both of them together. And Isaac said to his father, Abraham, my father. And he said, here I am, my son. He said, behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.
So they went, both of them together. And when they came to the place of which God had told them, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac, his son, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called him from heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham.
He said, here I am. He said, do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you've not withheld your son, your only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, the Lord will provide.
It is in Hebrew, Yahweh Yireh, or we often say Jehovah Jireh. As it is said to this day, on the mount of the Lord, it shall be provided. And in Hebrews 11, in the list of all of the great expressions of faith, this story finds a place. Hebrews 11 17, by faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac.
And look at verse 19, he considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. One of my favorite stories, the lady that would get up in the morning, go out on her front porch, and she'd just praise the Lord and thank Jesus for all the blessings in her life. And she would pray. She didn't have much.
She was poor. And her neighbor was an atheist who was bothered by all of this praising and rejoicing. And he would go over and argue with her and she'd just keep praying and praising and rejoicing. And one morning he heard her go out on her front porch and she was praying, Lord, I have no food in the cupboard.
Please bring me some food, Lord. And so the atheist decided he would play a trick on her. He went to the grocery store, bought some bags of groceries, snuck up on her porch and left it at the front door, rang the doorbell and went and hid in the bushes. And she came out and hear all these grosses. And she got on the front porch, she started praising and thanking the Lord, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus for bringing me all this wonderful food. And the atheist jumped out from behind the bushes and said, aha, I got you. Said, the Lord didn't bring you that food. I went to the grocery store and I brought it to you. And she lifted up her voice to heaven and said, thank you Jesus, you're even better than I thought. Not only did you bring me these groceries, but you made the devil pay for them.
Okay. Providence is a word that is beautiful. It comes from the prefix pro, before, and the Latin vide, which means to see. So to provide is to see before. Provision, therefore, is seeing beforehand, and that's what providence is. So to think much of providence is to think much of God's sovereignty, grace, sheer genius, omnipresence, omniscience, and His capacity, therefore, to see ahead of time of what is needed to bring about what He desires, the good of His children, and the glory and majesty of His name. And I think it's timely for us to think about providence in the aftermath and ongoing anxiety of a global pandemic that has made both the general angst of people rise precipitously, but also has increased anxiety disorder, psychologists tell us, in an extraordinary way, such that some would say anxiety has become an epidemic itself.
And I think that when you consider the goodness of God and His capacity to be providing for you, that place is where our anxiety melts and our trust of God grows. So throughout this fall, we're talking about providence, which in the vernacular is to say, God's got this. And I want to introduce our story today by first giving you an illustration that I remember when I first heard it. You know, preachers share these stories with the educators, like, oh, that's beautiful. That'll preach.
I can't wait to use that one, you know? And it has all the ingredients of a good sermon illustration. It connects to the emotions. And it's about a father and a child. And it's about commitment and blessing. And it seems like it's got all the right pieces, but there's something wrong with it.
And I want you to see if you can tell what's wrong with it. So a little girl saved up her allowance, and she bought a string of costume pearls. And she loved those pearls. She'd wear them all throughout the day. And last thing she'd do before going to sleep at night, she'd take off her pearls and put them on the bedside table. First thing in the morning, she'd put the pearls back on.
She just loved those pearls so much. And one evening as she was going to bed, her dad came in to tuck her in good night. And he said to her, sweetie, do you love me? She said, yes, daddy. He said, will you give me your pearls?
And she shook her head no. And he kissed her good night. The next night he came in and he said, sweetheart, do you love me? And she said, yes, daddy. He said, would you give me your pearls? And she shook her head no. The third night he came in and he said, sweet girl, do you love me? She said, yes, daddy. And as he got ready to ask the question, she took the pearls off of her neck. And she handed those costume pearls to her father who took them in his right hand.
And as he took them in his right hand, he pulled out his left hand behind his back and he gave her a string of real pearls. Sounds good, doesn't it? It's moving. It's beautiful in a lot of ways, but what's wrong with it? That's Alan Wright. And we'll have more teaching in a moment from today's important series. Unlock the power of blessing your life. Discover God's grace-filled vision for your life by signing up for Alan Wright's free daily blessing. If you want to fill your heart with grace and encouragement, get Alan Wright's daily blessing.
It's free and just a click away at pastoralan.org. God's love. You've heard about it with your ears.
You've believed it in your mind. Now experience it in your heart with Alan Wright's beloved book, Lover of My Soul. The Bible is a love story from beginning to end. You are the spiritual bride of Christ, the perfect bridegroom. The Bible tells about a God who has gone to unimaginable lengths to woo you, to win you, and to walk with you hand in hand. For any man who has fallen in love with a woman, you've tasted the sweetness of what God's love for you is like. For any woman who has searched for true love, what you long for can only be found fully in God. Gary Chapman, renowned author of the five love languages, says the incredible reality that God pursues us in love comes to life in Lover of My Soul. Ancient biblical accounts explode in the heart. Accept Christ's proposal, enjoy His embrace, revel in His love.
After all, it's a match made in heaven. It's Lover of My Soul by Alan Wright. The gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries. This broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support. When you give today, we will send you today's special offer. We are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries. Call us at 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. Or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Today's teaching now continues. Here once again is Alan Wright. I think that by using that illustration, which we can in some way quickly identify with, I think I can show you what's wrong with so many interpretations of Genesis 22. If you were to go online, as I did again this week, and look up all of the sermons on the Abraham-Isaac story, 95% of them say something like this. Look at what Abraham did in his great sacrificial love for God.
He offered up what was most precious to him. Be more like Abraham. What is your Isaac? What is it that God might be asking you to give up?
What do you need to let go and show your surrender of your real love and trust for God? Be more like Abraham. They all say that.
Half of them are entitled, what's your Isaac? Which, if that's the interpretation of the story, then there's not much good news here. In fact, as I was talking to a family member just this weekend, said, what are you preaching about? And I told her, and she said, oh, I hate that story. I said, well, come to church.
Maybe you'll change your mind. In the first place, what's wrong with it is that it is entirely the wrong way to read the Bible. In our little sermon illustration of the girl with the pearls, as tender as it is, the attention of the illustration is on the girl and her sacrifice.
It became the pivotal part of the story. And so often, the way we are accustomed to reading the Bible, we read it as if we're finding ourselves trying to be like the great Bible heroes. But it's the wrong way to read the Bible, because let's just take Abraham, for example. It might be that he looks like he is a person of heroic trust in this story, but if you were to flip the pages, you could find another story where, for example, Abraham goes into Egypt with his wife, Sarah, that local officials will kill Abraham in order to take Sarah as one of their wives. And so he says to Sarah, he says, how about you pretend to be my sister?
And he makes her go along with it, and he goes in and lies and says, this is my sister, to save his own skin. My wife's got some issues with Abraham over that story. So you can't say be like Abraham unless you pick out which stories you want to be like Abraham. Or take David, for example. And we always read the story and say, be like David. He ran towards his Goliath.
He faced his giants. We all need to be more brave like David. Well, that's fine if you're doing the David and Goliath story, but it's not so good if you come to another text where it says he was lounging about his palace at the times in which kings went to war.
Instead, he was loafing around his own palace, saw a woman on another rooftop, lusted after her, eventually had her husband killed so he could take her. You don't want to be like that. And so all the stories go. The fact of the matter is that if you were to read the Bible moralistically, like it's saying look at these good people, be like them, you really don't need the Bible for that. You could just tell people be more like Mr. Rogers.
Find some good person and try to emulate them. To tell people to be more like Mr. Rogers, you don't need a messy cross and a resurrection story and a miracle of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is not a story about you and you becoming a better person. The Bible is one big story that tells the revelation of what God has done to rescue you by his infinite love through the gift of his son Jesus Christ and how he came to defeat sin, to defeat death, to destroy disease, to make you his own, call you his co-heirs, and to take you with him for all eternity to live in a new heaven and a new earth. So every page of the Bible in one way or another is giving you a glimpse of that story. So every place in the Bible, whether you're reading a story in Genesis or you're reading the revelation of John on the isle of Patmos or whether you're reading Levitical laws and in the book of Leviticus, you're reading in some way an aspect of God's ever-increasing revelation of his love for you and what he's done for you. The attention of the Bible is on Jesus. Well, that changes a whole lot of things. And if you read the Bible or our little sermon illustration that way, your attention's in the wrong place. But here's the second thing. The little girl with pearls in the illustration, it's sweet. But our story, the idea of Abraham offering his son, it's an entirely different thing.
It's not about faux pearls. Our story in Genesis 22, it's about the killing of somebody. The first thing to say about that is that child sacrifice was an abomination in Israel. For example, Deuteronomy 18, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations, speaking of the pagan nations around them. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering.
The pagan nations did that to try to move their gods. And so at risk of being being too ugly to think of, I think I need to do it. If the little girl's pearl illustration were to symbolize how important it is for us to give up what is most precious to God, well, if you compare it to Genesis 22, you're gonna have to think about something other than pearls.
Maybe she's got a puppy. See, it gets bad to even think about. When people would preach Genesis 22 and say, what's your Isaac? Are you willing to give up? They usually make their illustrations relate to giving up your desire to have others' approval or some other little thing that seems doable. That's not what the story's about. It can't be that this story is in any way in the end about Abraham killing his own son because it would make God to be a liar. God had spoken, and when he speaks, his word is eternal. He said, there shall never be any of my people that would offer a child sacrifice that way. So there is no way that Abraham thought he was coming down that mountain with a dead son, and there's no way that God thought Abraham was coming down that mountain with a dead son.
That can't be what this story is about. The third thing that is wrong with the little girl's pearl illustration and with reading the story as be more like Abraham, the third thing that's wrong with it is that it implies that God is somehow impressed with our sacrifices. With grace and encouragement, get Alan Wright's daily blessing.
It's free and just a click away at pastoralan.org. God's love. You've heard about it with your ears.
You've believed it in your mind. Now experience it in your heart with Alan Wright's beloved book, Lover of My Soul. The Bible is a love story from beginning to end. You are the spiritual bride of Christ, the perfect bridegroom. The Bible tells about a God who has gone to unimaginable lengths to woo you, to win you, and to walk with you hand in hand. For any man who has fallen in love with a woman, you've tasted the sweetness of what God's love for you is like. For any woman who has searched for true love, what you long for can only be found fully in God. Gary Chapman, renowned author of the five love languages, says the incredible reality that God pursues us in love comes to life in Lover of My Soul. Ancient biblical accounts explode in the heart. Accept Christ's proposal, enjoy his embrace, revel in his love.
After all, it's a match made in heaven. It's Lover of My Soul by Alan Wright. The gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries. This broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support.
When you give today, we will send you today's special offer. We are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries. Call us at 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. Or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Back here now in the studio with Pastor Alan, as we kick off this brand new series, and I was sent through this live when it was being preached, and this was one I anticipated week after week. It's the providence of God, Pastor Alan. What an outstanding series we're diving into. I just can't wait to dive into this, Daniel. To believe in providence is to believe in a God who provides.
Pro video to see ahead of time. We'll be referencing that over and over. In other words, imagine that if God is already in your future, and so he can see what is needed, then he can provide what is needed. Providence is the great hope, assurance, and confidence of the Christian life. The picture in the scripture is altogether relational, and life-giving, and organic. And so, though we speak of a mystery, the scripture speaks of human life as being granted free will, so that every choice that you make matters.
And yet, God is mystically and marvelously involved in the details of our lives, so that he works in and through. only can you listen again online, but also get a daily email devotional that matches today's teaching, delivered right to your email inbox, free. Find out more about these and other resources at pastorallen.org. That's pastorallen.org. Today's Good News message is a listener supported production of Allen Wright Ministries.
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