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Let Everything Go – Part 3

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz
The Truth Network Radio
November 28, 2021 3:00 pm

Let Everything Go – Part 3

Living in the Light / Anne Graham Lotz

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Praise God! He understands. He draws near. And in the midst of your loneliness, your fear, His Word will give you an awareness of His presence in your life.

You're listening to Anne Graham Lotz with Living in the Light, a weekly message in her series from The Life of Abraham. Abraham made choice after choice until he forged an intimate relationship with God that God acknowledged as a friendship. Anne's desire is to know God as Abraham knew God and make Him known to you. He knows you. And therefore when He speaks, He speaks relevantly and personally and clearly. But He also understands you. And we find He understands Abraham and exactly where Abraham is. Inside the secret places that Abraham hasn't shared with anybody. And I don't know what the secrets in your heart are, the secrets in your mind, what you think about and how you feel.

And you haven't shared it with anybody but God knows and He understands. And He comes to Abraham and He says, Abraham, do not be afraid. You know, we would have no clue Abraham was afraid, would we?

I mean he went through and swept out those kings. He looked totally confident, powerful, in charge. Told off the king of Sodom and he comes back.

You would have no idea. I'm sure when he walked through the tent, his shoulders were squared, his head was up, he looked noble, confident, in charge. Only God would know. His heart was beating out of his chest and he was terrified of the retaliation. And that these kings were going to come back and wipe him out.

And I wonder if he was terrified even in a deeper way. God, have I spontaneously responded to this emergency crisis in a way that's going to thwart your will for my life? And are they going to come back and kill me before I can have a son and all these offspring and descendants and be a blessing and have that seed through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed? Have I done something that's going to keep me from fulfilling my potential in your eyes? Do you have a secret fear like that? Do you think that you have done something to thwart God's will for your life? Do you think you've done something that's cost you your potential in his eyes? And you haven't told anybody, but down deep you're afraid.

Maybe there's some other fear. And so God comes and says, Abram, don't be afraid. And through God's word he gave Abram peace.

Just like he did me last week and this week. Through God's word he's spoken to my life and gave me his peace. And God will give you his peace. He understands your secret fearfulness. And he gives you his peace.

And he understands our secret loneliness. He comes to Abram and he says, I am. And that's the word that God used for himself or the name God used for himself. Remember when Moses was at the burning bush? And God said, I want you to go tell Pharaoh to let my people go. And Moses said, whom shall I say has sent me? And God said, I am. And that's the name for the everlasting Father. That describes the eternity of God. It's not someone who was so much and is and is to come. He is the I am fully present in the past, present, future, every generation.

I am. And are you lonely? And you think of Abraham after a lot separated from him and lots gone to Sodom and he has all the things and the position and the prestige and the possessions and the whole plane of Jordan. And Abram's stuck in a tent under a tree in the desert all by himself. And is he just feeling walked over and left alone?

And is there a loneliness that's crept into his life? You know Abram kept giving up everything, gave up everything to Lot. Now he's given up everything to the king of Sodom and he just keeps giving it all up, doesn't he? And he has nothing to show for it.

And he keeps giving up and letting it go and what does he have but a tent under a tree in the desert? And maybe I should just tell you if you embrace the magnificent obsession of knowing God and making him known, there are going to be moments of intense loneliness. Because I would expect the majority of people even within your church are not embracing the magnificent obsession. They're not putting God first and I don't mean to be critical. Maybe I should say church generally speaking because I'm sure you come from a wonderful church. But there are many churches where the majority of people are just tacking God onto their lives and church is like a holy hobby.

You know it's not an obsession. And you come back obsessed with knowing God and making him, you're going to be by yourself. And there's a loneliness and I think Abram was feeling very alone. He kept giving up and getting walked over by Lot, giving up, getting walked over by the king of Sodom. Just letting things go and he had nothing to show for it and God comes and says Abram, I am.

And you may have given up all of that but I am in your life. I am present and he gave Abram a sense of his presence. And he knew Abram's secrets. Not only his loneliness but his weakness because he says I am your shield. And Abram must have been feeling very vulnerable, very exposed. Sort of like a sitting duck.

Just a veteran chieftain and he's got his wife there and his servants and his livestock. And he knows he's just sitting there so obvious in the middle of the desert and those kings come back and wipe him out. Are you feeling vulnerable? Are you just overwhelmed with a sense of your own weakness and inadequacy? Every time I step into a pulpit I'm overwhelmed with that sense of weakness. Every time I sit in front of a TV camera and I've got a little piece in my ear and I'm just looking at the camera lens.

I have no idea the questions they're going to ask me and millions of people are watching. I feel overwhelmed with a sense of weakness. And God has said, Ann, I am your shield. You can hide behind me. Isn't it wonderful?

That's why we're learning to dissect the word and to present the word because you can just hide behind the word. How many times when I've been, you know, they hold my feet to the fire on some television talk show and say, Ann, you mean you're saying that if you don't believe in Jesus you're going to hell? Are you saying basically I'm going to hell? I remember Larry King asking me that. He's Jewish and he's saying, Ann, you're saying that only people who put their faith in Jesus will go to heaven?

And I said, you know something Larry? That's not my idea. And it's not what I say. That's what Jesus said. I just hide behind Jesus and tell him this is God's word. It's his idea.

It's what he said. And when I give out the scripture and I'm letting the scripture speak, I can just hide behind the scripture. I hide behind the word. And God is your shield. And God was coming to Abram and said, Abram, I'll be your protection in that vulnerable place. When you're overwhelmed with weakness and inadequacy, you just hide behind me and I'll protect you.

And God comes. He knows your secret feelings of loneliness and fearfulness and weakness. And he knows your secret feelings of emptiness. He says, I am your great reward. And here's Abram, you know, giving up everything and he has nothing to show for it.

And just that tent under the tree in Hebron. And God says, Abram, it's okay because you have me. And you know something, if you have God, what difference does it make if you don't have anything else?

You know, let Lot have all the stuff. We just want God. And God is saying, I myself will be your exceeding great reward.

I think he's promising you and me a relationship with him that makes everything else pale in comparison. And so he's coming to Abraham understanding the secrets of his heart. What are the secrets in your heart?

Things that you never tell anybody. You know, it's one of the most precious evidences of the reality of the living Lord Jesus Christ when I haven't expressed something in my heart. I haven't said what's on my mind and I open my Bible and God comes and speaks right to that very thing.

Almost spooky, except that it's so precious. And you can trust God with your fears because he knows you. He speaks relevantly, personally, clearly and he understands you. He addresses those secrets that you haven't expressed to anybody.

And you can trust him also with your tears. And Abraham, it doesn't say he's weeping, but I just feel from the contents of these verses that he was saying this with tears running down his cheeks. And he's trusting God with the tears of his disappointment because he knew God had said to him back in chapter 12 that Abraham, if you leave Ur of the Chaldees I'm going to make you into a great nation. And then God said to your offspring I will give this land.

That was 10 years before. And he's left everything behind and he's let everything go and he doesn't own any piece of land and he has no offspring. And so he had heard God's word but he just wasn't sure he had understood God's word and he's beginning I think to shed tears of disappointment in God. And so he asked God some pretty tough questions in verse 2. Oh sovereign Lord what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus. And I think what he's saying is something like this. God I want to believe that you know my inmost thoughts and you know the secrets of my heart. And I want to believe that you've promised me your peace and your presence and your protection that you're going to be my reward. But how can I believe when the last time you spoke to me and promised me something I'm still waiting for it. You haven't kept your word the last time you spoke to me. So God do you mean what you say. And if you do why haven't you fulfilled your promise to me.

Why have I left everything to pursue you and still have nothing to show for it. God am I making a fool of myself. Have you ever had that thought cross your mind. And Lot who's just so successful making a go of it living a false counterfeit life but you know it just seems so real because he seems to be getting sick and you don't have anything to show for it. And so you ask God can I take you at your words and am I making a fool of myself.

That's a tough question isn't it. And I think he asked that with tears streaming down his cheeks and then he just continues and this time I think he's sobbing when he asked a troubled question he says in verse 3 you've given me no children. So a servant in my household will be my heir. And you know what he's saying. God what you are giving me is less than what I thought. And I thought you were going to give me more than I could ever dream to think of to ask for more abundantly than I could think to ask for and God to tell you the truth I could have thought to have asked for this. You know I have a servant I can leave him everything but that's not what I thought you were promising. And God are you telling me that I can't take your word literally. That you speak symbolically or spiritually or this was a legal arrangement. Are you telling me that you don't mean what you say and say what you mean that nouns and verbs are different in scripture that somehow we're going to interpret them in some mystical way. I thought I could take you at your word. I thought when you spoke to me you spoke to me literally. I thought you meant I would have a son from my own body but I've been mistaken and I just don't understand. You have a troubled question like that.

Tears coming down your cheeks, sobs choking your throat. Would you ask God? Would you bring your questions to him? You know I think that it's a disservice that we do other Christians when we say that you can't ask why. Because if you don't ask why how will you ever get an answer?

In the last few years my why questions have piled up and the tears have streamed down my cheeks and I've been choked with sobs until finally I wrote it out in a little book entitled Why. Basing it on John chapter 11. John chapter 11 Mary and Martha were praying for their brother Lazarus. Lord the one whom you love is sick. Implied God please answer our prayer and heal him. Do something about it. Intervene.

Make him well. They sent the message to Jesus so they were praying and Jesus was silent. He didn't say anything and he was still.

He didn't do anything. And what they prayed about didn't get better. It went from bad to worse and Lazarus died. And through that passage as I studied that passage God revealed to me so many precious truths. And I won't get sidetracked and go into that passage but bottom line this was his answer to my why questions. Why God? Why haven't you answered my prayer? Why didn't you intervene in the life of my loved one?

Why have you let the situation go from bad to worse? And you know what he said? Ann trust me. Trust me. Trust me. Trust me. Trust me when you don't understand. Just trust me because you know something? God has a bigger picture in mind than just answering my prayer the way I pray it.

Giving me what I want when I want it. And he didn't want to heal Lazarus. He was going to raise him from the dead because he wanted to glorify himself in the life of Lazarus and Mary and Martha and he was giving his disciples a life lesson. If they had eyes to see and ears to hear they would have known. If Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead then God could raise Jesus from the dead the very next week. But they totally missed the life lesson so they went through all that grief and turmoil when Jesus was crucified.

But he was giving them a visual. And so he had a greater purpose in mind than just healing Lazarus and making him feel better. And so sometimes when he doesn't answer our prayer it's because he has a greater purpose in mind and we just have to trust him when we don't understand. And so Abraham, he's challenging Abraham to just trust him and I believe this whole exercise even of making Abram wait 25 years from the time he left Haran until the time he had Isaac.

25 years because God was developing his faith so that he could give him Isaac. And you're not going to get answers like that if you don't ask him questions. So ask respectfully and ask reverently.

Don't get angry with him and don't get offended. But you can cry and say God why I just don't understand. And then God may speak to you as he has spoken to me. Maybe it will be through John 11. Maybe it's another passage of scripture.

Maybe it's from Genesis 15. But I know God spoke to Abraham and you can bring your troubled tough questions to God that doesn't offend him. He welcomes your questions when they're spoken reverently and respectfully. He may not answer right away. He may not answer the way you want him to answer. But he'll answer you. So I wonder what promise God has given you that he has yet to fulfill.

Are you still waiting? Because God has given you a promise and you're waiting and in your waiting are you beginning to doubt? And you're disappointed in God and you're beginning to doubt that you heard him right or that he meant what he said and you weep? Are you thinking that what he has promised you is less than what you thought? And that what you wanted for yourself would have been more than what he wants to give you?

And deep in your heart you have these troubled tough questions but in the end you just have to trust him. And Abraham was brought to that point that he would just trust him. But God gave him some encouragement. Something on which to hang his little tendril of faith. Just like he did Martha in John 11 when he said, Martha I am the resurrection of life.

Do you believe in this? So he gave her his word that she could hang her little faith on. And then when she refused to roll back the stone he said, Martha didn't I tell you? If you would believe you would see the glory of God. In other words, Martha put your faith in my word. And so he gives now Abraham a word on which he can put his faith.

So once again just a little encouragement. So you might need to ask God to give you another promise. To confirm the promise that he's already given you.

Just encourage your faith. Because now he comes and he's a little bit more specific and he says in verse 4, this man Eleazar will not be your heir but a son coming from your own body will be your heir. And he tells Abraham that he's going to have a son and it will be his own son.

And then he takes Abraham outside the tent. And he says, Abraham look up at the stars. And you know in the Middle Eastern sky where there are no cities and no lights, the stars are so much more distinct. It almost looks like the heavens have come down and the stars are so brilliant and you can see so many more than you can see where the lights of the city shine. And so all of these stars, and he said, Abraham you see all of these stars.

Count them if you can and you can't. But you're going to have more descendants than the stars in the sky. And you know every time from then on when Abraham looked up in the sky he was seeing that sign or that confirmation that God was going to keep his word. He was going to have a son and through that son he was going to have so many descendants that would be as numerous as the stars of the sky. Oh listen to me. What God wants for you is never less than what you want for yourself.

Maybe different. Always more abundantly than you could think to ask. Abraham I'm not going to disappoint you.

Bottom line, down the road you're going to be overwhelmed with what I'm going to do. And of course it was after Abraham's lifetime but he still had Isaac and he had those promises of God and he knew if God could give him Isaac, God could give him descendants as numerous as the stars of the heaven. And Abraham in verse 6 believed God's and it was counted to him for righteousness. He just believed God. He just took God at his word.

Romans 4. Abraham staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief but was strong in faith giving glory to God being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform. And he just believed God's word that he would give him a seed and that through that seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed and Galatians tells us and John tells us that Abraham could see through that promise. That the promised seed was not just Isaac and not a multitude of descendants but it was the Messiah, the promised seed of Genesis 3.15 who would take away our sin and bring us back into a right relationship with the Creator. He saw through this promise a prophecy of the coming of Jesus and he believed God's word and it was credited to him for righteousness. He just put his faith in God's word and God's word alone. And I don't want to stretch this, maybe I am, but I wonder from a New Testament point of view is this the moment when Abraham was actually in a sense converted? And then that made me wonder in the church today are there people who have left everything behind and they're pursuing knowledge of God and they've gotten off the fence and they're leaving behind their failures and building their altars and they're praying and they're reading their Bibles and they let everything go and they've decided they want God more than they want the world and Sodom and they give up their rights but could it be that some of those people have never actually been born again?

And they've never put their faith in God and God alone and it's never been credited to them for righteousness because they still think it's up to their self effort or they've got to do this or they've got to study hard or they've got to pray every day or you know still trusting a little bit in themselves and you have to trust God and God alone for your salvation. And I think it's true because I taught Bible study fellowship for 12 years and in that 12 year period we had several thousand people go through our class and I have had dozens maybe hundreds of women and these are basically church women who thought they were Christians come into the class and God's word came into their lives and they realized they had never put their faith in God and God alone for their salvation and they were born again after they came into class. Let's give me Jesus. We target Christian women, church women I should say and they come into the arenas by the thousands and every Friday night I give an invitation for them to come to the cross and repent of their sin and claim Christ as their savior and we've seen hundreds and thousands of women come to the cross and claim Christ as savior. And so I just share that with you.

Maybe there's somebody here. When was that point in time that you confessed your sin and you told God you were sorry and you put your faith in Jesus alone as your savior believing he died on the cross for you and nobody else if nobody else benefited you knew it was for you and you alone. He was raised from the dead to give you life and you claimed him for yourself and you put your faith in him and him alone.

None of any work that you've done, none of your church activity or your reputation. Just in God's word when God said all have sinned come short of his glory you say God that's me I've sinned and the wages of sin is death God I know that I'm separated from you going to hell why not die. But the gift of God is eternal life and God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that if you'd place your faith in him you won't perish you won't die you won't go to hell you'll have everlasting life. And you should put your faith in God's word that says if you confess your sin he's faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you all in righteousness and you don't have any feelings and for no other reason except God says so. You confess your sin and you claim Christ as Savior and you invite him to come into your life and you're born again and it's through faith alone. And I just throw that out there not only for you but I wonder in your Sunday school class, in your church, in your Bible study don't assume just because the people in your class or your church are members of a church or call themselves Christians that they've been born again. Tuck in the gospel whenever you have a chance and give opportunity for people to put their faith in Jesus because I think there are many many people out there within the church walls who've never put their faith in Jesus and Jesus alone. And they need to be challenged again and again until finally they come to that point where they get it.

They put their faith in God and he credits it to them for righteousness. Now here's Ann with this final word. If after hearing this message, in this moment, you're not sure that God counts you righteous from his perspective, if you're not sure you're his child, then right now pray the words of this prayer as your own. Dear God, I want to belong to you as your child. I confess to you that I'm a sinner. I choose to turn away from my sin. I believe your word as it points to Jesus as my savior. I believe that Jesus is your son who died on the cross for me. So I'm asking please forgive me and cleanse me of all my sin with his blood. I believe Jesus rose up from the dead to give me life so I'm asking that you give to me eternal life. Right now, I invite Jesus to come live inside of me. I surrender the control of my heart to him. From this day forward, I choose to live my life for him, to make him known. Amen. Ann, thank you. And if you've prayed with Ann, just let us know at angramlots.org. There's a booklet we'll send you to help you in living your life for him. And join us next week for Living in the Light.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-16 14:58:38 / 2023-07-16 15:08:43 / 10

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