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When Unexpected Tests Rattle Our World, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
October 14, 2022 7:05 am

When Unexpected Tests Rattle Our World, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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October 14, 2022 7:05 am

Clinging to Hope

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God never puts us through a test without a purpose. You're going through a test, there's a purpose. You may not know it's a test, but you know it's a difficult time you're going through.

It's never purposeless. God doesn't waste tests. If God has blessed you with children or grandchildren, you understand the depth of emotion that privilege brings. There's nothing that measures up to the love you feel for your offspring. There are times, however, when your relationship is tested.

Some of those tests are somewhat harmless. Other times, the tension nearly breaks you. Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll helps us understand how to respond to either one. His application is drawn from Genesis chapter 22 and the heart-rending story about Abraham's sacrifice.

Chuck titled his message, When Unexpected Tests Rattle Our World. At the risk of being overly literal, I want you to enter into what the sacrifice meant. Isaac was to be tied up. The wood was to be stacked as an altar. Isaac was to be laid on top of the altar. His throat was to be slit like the throat of an animal.

The torch was to be put under the wood. Isaac would be consumed in fire as an offering like he had been an animal. Abraham had often sacrificed animals. That wasn't anything new.

This is unbelievable. He's not told that I'm testing your faith. He's simply told, take Isaac and sacrifice him. I find here three responses in the verses that follow. The first response is immediate. Notice in verse three, the next morning, Abraham got up early.

We're not told of any wrestling, any reluctance. We're told only he got up early. The second thing I notice about the response, it is based on faith alone. He chopped the wood. He got the torch. He set out for the place God had told him to go. It was a long ways away, three days journey along the way, and it's all based on faith in his God.

There is no hesitation. Please observe the first one to break the silence is the son, Isaac. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Stay here with the donkey, Abraham told the servant. The boy and I will travel a little farther.

Please read carefully the next words. We will worship there, and then we will come right back. Will you observe what he calls the sacrifice worship? And will you also notice the pronoun in the return? Not I will come back, but we will come back believing that God is great enough. If I take the life of my son to bring my son back to life and he and I walk back down that trail to where the servants are waiting with a donkey and we go back to our home, we will worship.

We will return. The Lord is saying to him in effect, I want your whole heart. And that's exactly what Abraham gave him. The instructions were that clear. His response was immediate. His response was based on faith alone.

And now I notice his response is thorough and complete. Walk with the two of them as they make their way up the mountain. Verse six, Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac's shoulders while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, Father, we have a torch and the wood. Where's the sheep for the burnt offering? Abraham's response is is worth a second look. Your Bible reads God will provide. In other words, it's all in his hands.

I don't know where the sheep is. I don't know what God's plan is. He himself will provide that. I think it's gracious of Abraham not to get too specific. He leaves it in the hands of the Lord as he releases his boy to the Lord.

At this point, the Lord himself will provide what's amazing. There's no further dialog. I'm as impressed with the silence of Isaac as I am with the words of Abraham. When they arrived, as they both walked on together, then when they arrived at the place where God had told him to go.

Look at this. Abraham built an altar. No words are spoken. He tied his son and he laid him on the altar on top of the wood.

Talk about an epical experience. He lays Isaac on the altar. He lifts up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. Would he have done it?

Absolutely. This is not about a father's love for son. This is about a father's faith in his God. And at that moment, the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, Abraham, Abraham, here am I, is the response. By the way, if you don't think punctuality is important, take a look at that verse. Dispatched from heaven, the angel of the Lord directly came to Abraham there on that mountain, called his name and carried the message from God directly to Abraham's ears. And Isaac, laying tied on the altar, hears the name of his father and the words of the angel. Look, don't lay a hand on the boy.

Do not hurt him in any way for now I know. That's what the test was all about. I hate to interrupt the story, but I have to say that when such tests occur, you will not know at the time what they are about.

But those tests come and you will realize later when it all becomes clear. Abraham hears now I know. Know what? Now I know you truly fear God. The word fear is not a word for pride, not that he's afraid of God.

It's a word of respect. Now I know that I alone am number one. Now I know that I mean more to you than anything on the planet. Now I know. Proof positive.

You passed with flying colors. Put the knife away. Lay down the torch. We will use it later, but not with Isaac. Now I know that you truly fear God.

You have not withheld from me even your only son. We read that Abraham looked up and saw a ram. I caught this late in the week in my study. He looked up, which means he must have been on his face. Having been on his feet with knife raised when he hears his name coming from the voice of the angel, he drops to his knees and when he hears don't harm your son, he drops on his face. And his worship goes deep.

He is on his face before. His Lord, in the presence of this angel. And he looks up and sees a ram. Horns caught in the thicket. And he took the ram and sacrificed it, tied it up and laid it on the altar and up came the flame, having slit the throat of the ram and sacrificed the ram as he and Isaac probably arm in arm watched the smoke rise.

Abraham named the place Yahweh Yireh. The Lord will provide. The Lord has provided. I'll speak to all of us today as we move quickly from ancient days to today. Two comments followed by what we might call a principle.

Each of them. First, God never puts us through a test without a purpose. You're going through a test. There's a purpose. You will know the test at the time.

You may not know it's a test, but you know it's a difficult time you're going through. It's never purposeless. God doesn't waste tests. There's always a purpose. You will rarely know the purpose.

The test may be huge, but let me tell you, its purpose is far greater, far more significant. I have learned over the years and the tests in my life, usually the test is designed to have us release something we're clutching. We are clutching human beings. We grip things. We grip people. We grip titles. We grip positions. We cling to them. We clutch them.

The test comes. It's remarkable how it can loosen us from the thing that we've been gripping. Let me say secondly, when we trust him while loosening our grip, even when we cannot understand why, he provides solutions that quickly teach us to live with open hands. We will not clutch like that again, not as tightly.

Why? Here's the principle. The rewards that follow our learning to hold everything loosely will surpass anything we could have imagined as we were holding on. I'll say it again. The rewards that follow learning to hold everything loosely will surpass anything we could have ever imagined because the Lord provides that in its place. Whatever it is you've been gripping, clinging to, trying in every way to hold onto, let it go.

Let it go. And you will be amazed how God will step in and do the most surprising thing to make you realize what he had in mind is so much greater than what you were gripping. You can't understand later why you held onto it so tightly. One by one, God took them from me, all the things I valued most till I was empty handed. Every glittering toy was lost and I walked Earth's highways grieving in my rags and poverty until I heard his voice inviting, lift those empty hands to me. So I turned my hands toward heaven and he filled him with a store of his own transcendent riches till they could contain no more. At last I comprehended with my stupid mind and dull that God could not pour his riches into hands already full. It's amazing when you realize how God provides that you will want to hold anything again that tightly. It's amazing.

Some of you have not yet learned that. When Cynthia and I were designing our new Insight for Living Ministries International Headquarters building, we wanted to find a piece of art that would make a statement regarding the way God had led in that whole thing. The story is just, without sounding self-serving, believe me, it is just phenomenal. Two undeserving people with no background in anything like that knowing nothing of the world of media thrust into it by God's direction and here we were on our own clinging to all kinds of things ourselves thinking that is what we're meant for.

This is security or this is our reason for being. The Lord began to show us no. Anyway, we found this magnificent sculpture, piece of sculpture by Robert Hogan. This magnificent piece is a portrayal of the story we've just been through and it stands high on its own pedestal in the entrance of our building and the wings of the angel of the Lord are spread like this and his hand is reaching down to Abraham's hand. It's the moment, the moment of solution, the release, the turning point in the whole story and you look at the base of the sculpture and there is a small plaque that reads, the Lord himself will provide. That's the story of our ministry. You get to this statue by walking along the gallery of the nations, some 200 cubicles that will someday hold artifacts from the 195 nations of the world, flags and books and various meaningful paraphernalia from these various nations as you walk along under the words of the great commission that had been etched in the oval section above you and you get to the statue and there you stand and you read and if no one says anything to you, you get the message. This place exists because the Lord has provided. All glory to him for what he has done. I am convinced when Abraham left the scene and walked back with his boy to their home that he kept loving Isaac as before but he never forgot who was first.

Maybe you've forgotten. Maybe in the clutching ears you didn't realize how tightly you were gripping what was in fact a part of the test that would later be brought before the Lord for you to release. Maybe someone you loved or something you felt you really needed, something you had anticipated, maybe a long lost dream you had hoped to reach. Whatever Jehovah, Yahweh, the Lord himself has provided. I want us to bow together and I want you to search your own heart. When you stop to think about it, the cross was God's releasing to us his most treasured, most valued presence in heaven, his very son and he sent him to this earth not to live, not just to live but to die and to pay the price for the sins of people like you and me. We who are prone to wander and prone to leave the God we love. I think the table of the Lord is given to us to bring us back to square one, back to remember who he is, why he came and what he means to us. May these elements you hold in your hand and then take in your mouth be tangible reminders that the Lord wants first place and he won't stop till he gets it. And we are to hold him in that kind of fearful respect and give it to him.

Release it. Thank you in advance, our Father, for the table that you've provided. Throughout our lives we've come around this table and today again to taste a piece of bread and to swallow just a little bit of juice and to remember in the taste and the swallowing your son gave it all that we might know you and know life abundant.

Help those who struggle today with releasing. May this message be a reminder of the value of giving you first place in everything. We take these elements bread and cup alike in remembrance of Jesus. In whose name we pray.

Amen. In the worship service where Chuck Swindoll delivered this message, the congregation was invited to participate in communion together. And although we often think of the Lord's table as something we do inside a church building, we invite you to reserve a few minutes even today to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf. You're listening to Insight for Living and to learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org. Well, today's message is message number four in a brand new 12-part series that Chuck has called Clinging to Hope. It's also the title of a brand new book from Chuck. And if you're looking to introduce a friend to Chuck's teaching or maybe searching for a book that's suitable for your small group at church, this is the one. All 12 chapters describe precarious moments when our only choice is to cling to hope.

For instance, there's a chapter on clinging to hope when suffering makes its mark and another chapter on clinging to hope when thorns rip our pride. To purchase a copy of Clinging to Hope, follow the simple instructions at insight.org slash hope, or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Just before we sign off, all of us here at Insight for Living would like you to know that we're asking God to use this study to infuse hope into your life and home.

In that spirit, we're inviting you to join us in taking God's hope all across our country and even throughout the world with Vision 195. To give a donation today online, go to insight.org, or you can call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. And a reminder that this coming Sunday morning, you're invited to enter the worship center at Stonebriar Community Church by viewing the online stream.

You can watch the service in real time or watch the recording. You'll find all the instructions at insight.org slash Sundays. In March 2023, Insight for Living Ministries is hosting an unforgettable journey to Israel. Carefully plan to deepen your understanding of the Bible and draw you closer to God.

Here's Chuck Swindoll. For thousands of years, no place has been more meaningful to God's children than the land of Israel. The rugged landscape reminds us to find refuge in God alone. The fertile valleys invite us to follow our shepherd. Abraham's position at the very center of the world announces the good news of Christ to every nation. And now you can see Israel with Chuck Swindoll and Insight for Living Ministries March 5th through the 16th, 2023. Every time I visited the Holy Land, I returned home with a refreshed heart for God and a renewed vision for the world.

Really, I mean it every time. And so I want you to have the same life-changing experience. To learn more, go to insight.org slash events or call this number 1-888-447-0444. Insight for Living Ministries Tour to Israel is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Chuck Swindoll talks about clinging to hope when calamity crashes in Monday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, When Unexpected Tests Rattle Our World, was copyrighted in 2019 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-06 19:05:21 / 2022-12-06 19:12:40 / 7

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