Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Thursday, September 22nd. The pain of a difficult situation can be an opportunity for great spiritual growth. Today we'll learn how our walk with God can be strengthened when your commitment is on trial. Let's go back and look at Abraham for just a moment. Here he is, now remember this, that he's 100 years old when Isaac was born. Now remember what he said to him. He says, I want you to take your only son, Isaac, whom you love.
Now imagine waiting 100 years. He's 100 years old when Isaac is born. He loves them. He's the apple of his eye.
His life begins to revolve around this young lad. He sees him as the heir to all that God has blessed him with. And remembering also that back over in the 15th chapter, when God began to speak to him and make a covenant with Abraham, he said he was going to bless him. He says the stars of the sky, he says that's the way your descendants are going to be. The sands of the sea, that's the way your descendants are going to be.
Innumerable, uncountable, I'm going to bless you. And he waited and he waited and he waited for 100 years old he was when Isaac was born. Now God says to him, Abraham, yes Lord, take thy son, thine only son whom you love to a place that I will show you, Mount Moriah, and offer him to me there. It's interesting what the scripture says because that's in verse two.
Verse three begins this way. So Abraham rose up early in the morning and saddled his donkey and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son, split the wood for the burnt offering, rose in the place of which God had told him. I don't know about you but I think I wouldn't have wanted to get up the next morning myself. I don't think I would have slept all night. I would have taken myself a long walk and I probably would have told God, no, sacrifice my own son, kill my own son, 100 years of age when you gave him to me. What about all the promises you made to me? What about all these descendants like the stars of the sky? What about this promised land?
What about how all the nations of the earth are going to be blessed and now you give him to me for such a short period of time and now you take him away. You couldn't be telling me this. Why God?
Tell me why. Explain this to me. Why are you putting me to this test? Why am I having to undergo this?
Why do I have to suffer this way? Why God? And oftentimes what do you and I hear? Dead silence. But you see, God's never promised to answer why. He's just promised to assure us of what?
That he has the testing under control and likewise he has given us the promise of his companionship to walk with us through it. So it may be very perplexing sometimes. No reasonable answer. Very untimely. Seemingly unfair and unjust and almost unbearable. Can you imagine taking a knife and hold it over the life of your precious little lad whom you love with all of your heart, with whom you fished, with whom you've hunted, whom you taught all these things and God says, now I want you to take that knife and drive it through his heart.
No. Not a one of us could do that without arguing and saying God unfair, unjust, unreasonable. This must be the devil. This couldn't be of God. Let me say one thing to many people who may be listening. There are many voices today that are not God's voice. Anything, any word, any voice, any message that you receive regardless of who you think you receive it from that tells you to violate one single principle of this book is straight from hell. It is from the devil, Satan himself. It is the lie of Satan and don't you do it.
The many people today who say God told me to do it and they're committing all kinds of evil and sin and all kinds of crime and blaming it on God. You see, he could not say such a thing because it is absolutely against his very nature. God never intended this man to kill his son. He didn't.
God would never have allowed that. He brought Abraham to a point in his life of testing him. He didn't tell him to kill his son. He said, you take him up and offer him. Listen, he didn't say take him up and kill him.
He said, take him and offer him. God knew what he was going to do. He knew that all he wanted Abraham to do is to offer his son so that Abraham would discover the degree to which he was committed to Jehovah, Elohim, Yahweh, Adonai.
He wanted Abraham to know God already knew. It's perplexing sometimes. Now listen, wouldn't you agree that the most difficult kind of hurt is emotional hurt? That inside hurt, that struggling that goes on on the inside when every way you turn there's no way out and you struggle.
Now here's what we struggle with. When you and I committed to Jesus Christ, I'm not talking about somebody who's not committed. I'm talking about those of us who are committed as best we know or as much as we think we are committed, that oftentimes it is a very painful experience to be tested in our commitment. And where we hurt is internally. And oftentimes we have to bear that hurt and nobody knows we're hurting but us. Not only that, what we have to ask is what is it that makes me hurt on the inside?
When God knows I want to do his will, when he knows I'm committed to doing his will, and yet sometimes when the testing comes and I think, oh, God don't ask me to do that. Lord, surely you're not requiring me to go through this. God, why would you do this to me at this point in my life?
Lord, I don't understand this. Hurts so deep, hurts so intensely, hurts so deep down inside, almost too hurtful to even explain to someone else. Now why do we hurt? Here's why we hurt.
It isn't because God's being unkind to us. Here's where we hurt. Let's say, for example, that you're committed to being obedient to God, as committed as you know how to be. And you see, God knows your motivation. He knows how committed you are. Where is the hurt and why is the hurt?
Here it is. It is the genuine, sincere struggle of the saint of God who wants to do the will of God but who feels that he's too weak or she's too weak. You see the struggle that's coming. You see all the consequences of that period of difficulty in your life. And you think, oh, God, please deliver me. But you know, in spite of everything you say, it's coming.
You see it coming. It's like standing on that railroad track and here comes that tremendous locomotive 60 miles an hour bearing down on you. And you think, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. And you know that all the hollering in the world won't stop until it'll run you right over. Now, God's not going to run you over, but I can tell you one thing, he'll let you hurt.
And I've seen some times in my own life when I thought, oh, God, please, please, please, please, please. God says, no, I want you to discover. I want to show you something about you.
And then I want to show you something about me. He knows where we hurt. And you see, here's why we hurt. We really want to obey God, but the flesh is so weak.
And what happens? We struggle. And what goes on on the inside of us is this tremendous battle between the spirit and the flesh.
Want to be obedient, trying to be obedient, struggling to be obedient, but everything in us oftentimes is gripped with fear. And we're going to talk about in one of these messages how we resist and why we resist being committed to God. The struggle's there.
The pain is there. And the pain, I believe, was surely in Abraham's heart. And you see, just because the Bible says, well, the next morning, that Abraham just got up and got his donkey together in the wood and his son, they took off to Mount Moriah, doesn't mean that Abraham didn't struggle. Abraham was committed to being obedient to God, but Abraham was still a daddy. You see, Abraham said, yes, Lord, I'll take him up and offer him. And I believe that Abraham believed with all of his heart, even if I take his life. Listen, the sovereign God, Yahweh, Elohim, even if I take his life on the basis of your unconditional promise to me, you'll have to resurrect him off that altar.
That's why he said to his servants, you stay here. We're going and worship and we are coming back. We're coming back. We're going to return. When he said that in the Hebrew, that's what it says. We're going to worship and we're coming back.
Then let's talk about the progressiveness of it. I want to show you something in Abraham's life. You see, God moves us upward in our commitment to him.
See, this is the way he operates. He said to Abraham, for example, in a pagan society, I want you to leave your family, leave this land and going to land that I will show you. So Abraham made a commitment to obey God to do what? To leave his family and to travel in an unknown land as God led him step by step. That's a commitment he made.
Yes, God, I will do that. He brings him, listen, this is how he progresses. And let me say this, that Abraham isn't a perfect man.
He makes some terrible mistakes. But God said to him, would you commit yourself to follow me even if you don't know where you're going? Would you commit yourself to follow me and you'll have to leave your family and friends behind? Would you commit yourself to follow me by leaving it all behind and going where you don't have any idea where you're going?
Yes, I will. God said, all right, let's go. Listen, that's way down here compared to Abraham, I don't want you to leave your son. I want you to offer him on the altar of sacrifice.
And there were a lot of years between leave your family and offer your son. And you see, none of us know really how committed we are. Every once in a while somebody says, well, I just pray for God to send me trials, not me, brother, I get enough without praying for him.
I'm not going to ask for any. And I don't advise people just to say, Lord, send me trials and send me heartaches. Listen, if you commit yourself to being obedient to Almighty God, he will send you his times of testing at the right time in order to do what? To lift you in your commitment.
So here's what happens. God knows that testing is a time of stretching and that growth demands stretching. And stretching means my faith increases. And as my faith increases, I grow in the Lord. And as I grow in the Lord, my commitment grows. And as my commitment grows, I become more useful to God, more listen, as my commitment to him grows, I as a person become more valuable to God's great purpose in life. Do you know why so many people feel so purposeless, so empty, so futile and so useless? Because listen, back here, God tested their commitment.
They're still back in the kindergarten area of commitment. Yes, Lord, what is that you want me to, oh, no, no, no, Lord, I can't do that. Now, what else is that you wanted me to do? I want to tell you something, when you draw, when you say no to God, he draws the line. Now you may think that you're way over here in your spiritual life, but I'm going to tell you where you are. Here's where you and I are. We are at the last line we drew and when we told God, Lord, oh, listen, call on me for just about anything, but not that.
That's where you stop growing. You see, if you and I could just get God's perspective, he makes no mistakes. You see, here's where we want to go. We want to say, yes, Lord, oh, yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes, Lord. And then all of a sudden, God raises the level of commitment and we say, oh, no, Lord, no, Lord, no, Lord. And so what we want to do, we say, Lord, I like it right where I am. Just let me stay on this level. You send somebody else to do that and just let me stay right here. You know what God says? Nothing doing.
No plateaus on the spiritual plane. God wants to keep on growing. And so you know what he does sometimes when we won't take the step? He just gives us a shove.
And when he gives us a shove, you can remember this. That is an expression of God's wonderful love to you not to let you stay. Have your children ever said to you at some time in my life, goodness gracious, you talk about having to pay the mortgage and having to pay this and having to pay that. It's tough making a living. Your kids say, boy, I hope I don't grow up. I don't want to grow up. I've got to face all of that. So what do you say to them? OK, you just stay at 13.
That'll be fine. No, you know, they're going to have to grow up and face the same things that you and I face. Some things in life are tough, but here's what I discovered.
The tougher it is, the longer the stretch, the more difficult, the more painful. The greater the growth and the understanding and the development internally of your spiritual life. Well, let's move on. Well, as the Lord began to deal with Abraham, I want you to put out the next word performance because all of us are going to perform in one fashion or the other as a result of being tested. Now, here's what's going to happen. The way you and I respond, the way you and I respond when our commitment is tested is going to be based on this. That is, we're going to respond based on our understanding of who God is, who I am, to whom I belong and why I'm here. When I understand those four things, it's going to highly affect my response to this time of testing in my life.
Second thing I want you to notice is this. My response is going to be based on my genuine love and devotion to Jesus Christ. Now, listen. God knows when He presents you with a problem, presents you with a time of testing. He knows that there is a period.
Now, I want you to listen carefully because this is extremely important. He knows there is a period of time when you first see the test coming and you know it's there. He knows there's a period of time when you think, okay, now wait a minute. So you wring your hands, you talk to God, you argue with Him a little bit, you rationalize, you tell Him it's unfair, this is not the right time. You go through all this and He understands that. That doesn't upset Him.
He doesn't say, well, you should know. He just listens and lets us go through all that and it all gets sifted out. But God knows, listen, He knows if you really and truly love Him, that after you get through the haze and the fog and the maze of all the unreasonable, unbearable, and all of these attitudes we have to face, He knows that you and I are going to say, Lord, I don't understand it.
Yes, I will. I'm trusting you. What I'm saying to you again because it's so important is listen to me. The struggle, the struggle you go through is part of the blessing. Because listen, when you get in the heat of obeying God, listen, He tested your commitment here and you went through a great time of difficulty finally saying, okay, God, I'm sure that's what you're saying, yes, I will be obedient. When you get out there in the thick of the battle and all hell breaks loose on you, you're not going to crumble beneath the pressure because you're going to be able to look back and think, well, one thing I'm sure of, of a sovereign God who promised to be my controller and my companion through all this. And you see, what God wants to work into your life and my life is the same thing He worked into Abraham's life. He wants us to respond properly.
He tested, tried Abraham. It is my devotion to Jesus. Now, I've got a couple of options here. Here are my options when I'm tested in my commitment. My options are trust Him and obey Him even though I don't understand what's going to happen. Or secondly, I can become fearful and attempt an escape. Let me just say this to you simply as I know how, friend, it is always best to obey God and leave the consequences of your obedience to Him that is always, not some time, not most of the time, always, without exception, always the best practice. Just obey Him. Even if you have to close your eyes and jump.
Just close them and jump, but obey God at all costs. You'll always come out a winner. Father, we thank you for loving us. We don't want you to stop testing us because we want to keep growing. Wherever we are in our commitment tonight, we know that in your own time, you'll raise that wonderful level of commitment for you're fashioning us and shaping us into your likeness. Father, we know that you forgive us when our attitudes are not right about the times of testing. You know when we want to run, but you know, ultimately, if we love you, we're coming back to say, yes, Lord, here am I, send me. And this we thank you for in Jesus' name, amen. Thank you for listening to part two of Commitment on Trial. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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