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January 9, 2022 1:00 am
Where do you turn when hardship hits? When God wants to deepen your spiritual maturity, He sometimes takes away all the comforts to which you’re accustomed. It’s possible for God to lead His people into the wilderness. That’s what happened to Abraham. In this message, you’ll journey with him through an unexpected famine to face his doubts and failures. In fact, every “famine” you go through tests your trust in God.Click here to listen (Duration 54:30)
When God wants to deepen our spiritual maturity sometimes takes away all the comforts we've been used to some of us move out of state where a new job falls apart. Some of us are told that we have booked weeks or months to live. It's possible for God to lead his people into the wilderness for their greater good, and his greater glory.
That's what happened to Abraham from Chicago. This is The Moody Church.
Our weekly service of worship and teaching with pastor Erwin Blitzer.
Today we continue a seven part series on famines, deserts and other hard places after the music of worship. Erwin Blitzer will bring a message on trusting God when the wells are dry Pastor Lutzer comes now to open our service and what a wonderful opportunity.
It is for us to gather together in the name of the Lord and to give him praise in a moment we are going to sing that wonderful him praise the Lord the King of creation and the Bible says, who so often with praise, glorify me. So if our hearts are right, focused, if we are genuine before God is singing this song we are bringing him glory which is what it's all about father. In these moments that we dedicate to you. We leave behind the pressures of the world to get our attention wholly and totally to use the living and the true God, acknowledging that you are indeed the King of creation, as we shall sing in a moment that you are the living God with all of the implications of that commitment and truth, use this time together to bring glory to you and may we be pleasing in your sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. We ask a man and I invite you to follow along with me in your bulletin as we bring together selections from some 42. Please read a lot with me on the bold print.
This is God's word as the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God. My tears have been my food day and night. While people say to me all day long. Where is your God why my so I knew downcast. Why is there within me put a hole in an in and deep calls to deep in the rule of your waterfalls all your ways and records and swept over me that day the Lord directs his love at night. His songs with me a prayer to the God of my life so I downcast my is in me put so in God and my Savior and God, trusting God when the wells are dry. I begin today with a question. Where do you go when you are in a tight place. Of course, if someone in your home is having a heart attack you call the paramedics if you have a fire you call the fire department what you do when there is no agency that can take care of your problem for you. What do you do if your spouse walks out of the marriage.
What if you are unjustly fired and unjustly accused. What then what if the doctor walks into your room and tells you things about your body that you thought would only be true if somebody else you have cancer. What then broken relationships and pain where do you go the title of this series of messages is famines, deserts and other hard places. I chose this title. Not because I think that America is going to have a famine. I think that given our wheatfields in this great nation will not experience a famine, but we may experience a financial downturn and sometimes during those times of struggle and the some of you are in that predicament right now, we wonder what to do and where to turn.
And in the Bible. As I look at the Scripture.
I realize that the closest thing to economic hardship is really a famine because they didn't have an economy like ours so I've been looking in the Scripture and finding out about famines.
In fact, the next message in this series is going to be on all the different things that God does through famine, but today were going to look at the life of a man who experienced an unexpected did famine and what he did what he did write what he did wrong and where do we go from here. The man's name is Abraham and the story is in the 12th chapter of the book of Genesis Genesis chapter 12, you know it well probably that Abraham was actually there in of the Chaldees and God called him and told him that he was to go into a land that God show him. He traveled without a map.
Chapter 12 verse one the Lord said to Abram, by the way, you'll notice in Genesis 12 it is Abram and Sarai later on they are renamed by God.
Abraham and Sarah, so I'm going to go with their reading name names because that's what I'm primarily use to. So the Lord said to Abraham go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you and I'm going to make you a great nation, and Abraham goes I want to really convince Sarah that he should do this.
I've heard from God.
Let's go and you imagine that husbands try it. So they come into the land and Debbie Holden, the Canaanite as their buddies in the land and the Lord confirms this is the land I have chosen for you. God confirms it and Abraham builds an altar unto the Lord. Verse seven and he worships to the Lord and in verse eight he went to Bethel on the Westside and AI on the east end. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord and Abraham journeyed on still going toward the negative.
That means the desert is the end of the will of God. Yes Izzy thereby obedience to God.
Yes, this land was a gift to him from God, and he was obedient in following the Lord. That's why were surprised when we get to verse 10 in verse 10 we read now there was a famine in the land is so Abraham went down into Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land in the middle of obedience in the middle of doing God's will, right in the place of blessing the land of blessing.
There is a severe famine. Maybe you've experienced that to you left one job and you took another and you prayed about it and you gave it to God and now six months later the company is being downsized and you've been let go and you say to yourself, how can this be, I must be out of God's will, not necessarily Abraham in the middle of God's will. Beatty and to God experience a severe famine member the disciples.
Jesus said get into the boat and go to the other side.
Were they in God's will, doing what Jesus told them to do.
Yes, and in obedience to Christ they experienced one of the most devastating storms that they'd ever experience. Don't ever think that the most holy path is always the smoothest path.
Sometimes the roughest path is the holy path for you and for me, will the famine came to Abraham and as trials do. They came without instruction.
There was no tag on it from God saying Abraham you have a severe famine, and you got a wife and you've got camels and servants to take care of. I want you to do this. No trials, without instructions, without guidance and there we are. God has a purpose, but we sure don't know what it is were going through it now.
I need to emphasize that it was not wrong in this sense for Abraham to go to Egypt or to clarify, I think it was wrong for Abraham to go to Egypt but that doesn't mean that whenever a famine comes, you shouldn't move as a matter fact in the next message I'm going to point out that God often uses famines to move people. That's the way in which the Israelites got into Egypt is because of a famine, but in this instance, Abraham in the land of that dog gave him experienced a famine and what did he do, he went down to Egypt, he went down to Egypt and I think that the writer intends not only that, he went down geographically, but he went down spiritually in a panic doing something that seemed reasonable to him a better opportunity if you please, rather than trusting God. So now we have Abraham in the land and he resorts to deceit. He resorts to deceit in order to protect himself. You'll notice it says verse 11, when he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarah, his wife.
I know that you are a woman, beautiful in appearance and when the Egyptians see you they will say this is his wife. Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister that it may go well with me because of you and that my life may be spared for your sake. Well Abraham that makes us smile a little bit. Your life is going to be save my life will be saved for your sake. Actually, it's a half-truth. Did you know that Sarah was really his cousin. He explains that later.
So in a sense it was 1/2 lie half-truth, but in this instance, a half-truth became a whole lie and Abraham was willing to jeopardize his wife to save his own skin, and she apparently went along with the deceit.
It's something like a man who expects his wife to sign an income tax statement that she knows is fraudulent.
It has wrong numbers but she's asked to be party to the lie to the deceit and this is what Abraham does in the case of Sarah so she goes along with it and them she is 65. By the way, and is still so beautiful that he knows that the Egyptians will see her and they will want her and that Pharaoh will monitor what you say age 65 she started to get up there. Remember that the people in those days, live longer, and then remember that Liz Taylor lived to 79 iGoogle that on the Internet this morning.
That's why I'm able to share that little bit of news will you normally things like that don't stick in my mind and she remained and captured beauty into older age, I wouldn't say that 79 his old age.
I think your actually just getting started. When you're in your 70s, but nonetheless nonetheless. Sarah was very beautiful stunning in appearance and so what happened now is that Tim is lying becomes profitable because you see if they said that she was his sister. Now the custom was that Pharaoh was going to have to negotiate with Abraham and give him some kind of a dowry and buy him off so that Pharaoh could marry his sister.
That's exactly what happens.
You'll notice it says that Jim Pharaoh saw her verse 15 and they praised her to Pharaoh and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house and for her sake. He dealt well with Abraham and he had sheep and oxen male donkeys male servants female servants female donkeys and camels.
Abraham thought to himself, my deceit is working.
Not all lies are immediately exposed. Sometimes they work like the Sunday school's voice said when he was asked what ally was he says. A lie is an abomination unto the Lord, but a very present help in time of trouble could I say in parenthesis that not all financial blessing is a sign of God's favor. Pharaoh gave Abraham all of these things even though they were given to him based on deceit and so Abraham says to himself. The lies seems to be working but there is a shadow over Abraham's soul. No question about it in this shadow becomes very evident because the Bible says now that he lost his testimony in Egypt. Notice it's this that the Lord afflicts Pharaoh, you may say will why does the Lord afflict Abraham. God had something special for Abraham and Sarah. So instead of inflicting Abraham which he might well have done. He actually afflicts Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarah, Abraham's wife. So Pharaoh called Abraham and said, what is this that you've done to me. Why did you tell me that she was your wife why did you say she is my sister so that I took her for my wife now then here is your wife take her and go. Pharaoh gave the men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had Abraham backslid when he was in Egypt, he resorted to deceit and lying and panic and he didn't trust God.
You'll notice that there is no altar in Egypt. Nowhere is there any indication that he sought God's mind in the midst of this famine in the midst of these dry wells. He did not seek the Lord to but he did what seemed right, and it involved deceit, and here he is being reprimanded by Epp Hagan King, the pagan, the Kings says get outta here, you imagine Abraham turning around and witnessing to him and saying you know you shouldn't believe in all of your pagan Egyptian gods. You should agree with and worship the God who spoke to me who gave me the land would Abraham say that with integrity.
No like a businessman whose mouth is totally stopped because everyone at work knows who he really is how he behaves what he has done what is in his resume, the corners that he has cut the lies that he is told the little deals that he has tried to wield and he is paralyzed when it comes to his witness for Christ because you could just imagine what the people would say spare me. So Abraham leaves in his testimony is gone. In Egypt, now it's interesting that when he does this. It has a great deal of impact on his family. It has negative influence on his family, remember this, that when we backslide you and I may come back as parents, but maybe our children don't. This was certainly true in the case of David was in a David bounce back from his adultery. He received God's forgiveness is back in fellowship with his kids never recovered.
So here you have an instance where Abraham was deceitful.
It affected Sarah you can imagine the rupture in that relationship that took place as Sarah had to become a party to Abraham's deceit, but also influenced a man by the name of a lot his nephew Lot was there in Egypt and evidently went with Abraham, of course, because the text says that they were together they separated later in the next chapter and Locke looked at the riches of Egypt, and even when lot came out of Egypt. Egypt did not come out of lots heart.
He had seen this something that he wanted and he never got over it. You say will Pastor Lutzer, is there any evidence for that and the answer is yes.
In chapter 13 were Abraham and Lot separate because they all needed their own pastureland lot.
Abraham said you can choose whatever you want and I'll take the opposite. Verse 10 of chapter 13 log lifted up his eyes and saw the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt.
He said this is so good.
It reminds me of Egypt and lot made that decision and he ended up in Sodom and Gomorrah, and what a sad tale that turned out to be decisions with repercussions, but there's something else that happened in Egypt and that is when he was there. They brought back with him and Egyptian slave girl a servant in the household and her name was Hagar, the Bible refers to her as Hagar the Egyptian and Abraham obviously got her when they were there in the land of Egypt, and he right know the rest of the story how that Sarah couldn't have children at that time and Abraham has a relationship with Hagar and Ishmael was born in whole history of the Middle East was affected by that decision that he made so Abraham bounces back and he's back in fellowship you civil how do I know that he's back in fellowship. Chapter 13 opens with him going to the negative and then going to Bethel where he had been at the beginning. At first, and you'll notice it says in verse four to the place where he had made an altar at the first in their Abraham called on the name of the Lord.
The backslider was worshiping God again and the backslider came home and was restored by God, you still Pastor Lutzer, what's the what's the bottom line here.
How does this change our lives.
In my particular famine you may be in a situation where your wells are dry, so to speak and I speak not only economically but in terms of relationships in terms of hardship in terms of crisis, how does it affect us. Let me give you some observations and then nail it to the wall for all of us.
First of all them, the God who saves us is the God who sustains us. The God who went with Abraham into the land that would've been able to keep Abraham in the land. No question about it now. As I already mentioned, it isn't wrong for us to move when we're in a famine in one part of the country and go to another but for Abraham. This was unique. The problem was. He believed in God's guidance into the land, but he couldn't trust God to sustain him in the land is a very interesting passage in the 26 chapter of Genesis Genesis chapter 26 Isaac, the son of Abraham. It says that chapter 26 verse one now there was a famine in the land besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham and Isaac went to Gerard to Abimelech, the king of the Philistines. That's actually on the way to Egypt and the Lord appeared to him and said don't go down to Egypt well in the land which I shall tell you, and then God reiterates his covenant with Isaac and Isaac trust God to keep him in the midst of the famine and to grant him the grace to stay there and what follows in the rest of the chapter is quite unique and even surprising because we notice that Tim Isaac it says in verse 12 Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold.
Well that's unique, isn't it. He was in the land of famine.
But God says I am going to provide for you in the midst of your family not to take the famine away, but I'm going to grant you grace and strength so that you can live in the midst of the famine to those of you who are going through an actual economic famine.
What this means is that were were we are where we are. We can change our situation.
Many of us. Perhaps Cantu are going through that we can change where we go.
We can't just pick up and move its it's so complicated to God to sustain you in the midst of that heart ache that famine. The answers yes. Isaac reminds us of the fact that you should be willing to do anything you should be willing to trust God not only for the harvest, but the rest of the chapter in 26 says that Isaac says that the Philistines filled the wells that Abraham had done and Isaac went. It says, and he read Doug Abrahams wells, and they had water.
Look around. There may be some move you can make that you've not thought of.
And one of the move since were speaking economically certainly is downsizing. I know that there are some folks who said this and this is an actual story, though not connected to Moody Church about a real estate developer who is making so much money Christian and he said you know we just open our hands like this and God fills it one success after another. And then when the downturn came in the real estate market and he was unable to meet his obligations. He suddenly learned the something that God sustains us in the midst of famine, but we may live through the famine, but we can't live as we always lived. He had to down size he had to sell off. He had to lose a lot of money but not from God's standpoint is part of the teaching. He says I will sustain you in the midst of the famine. It may be hard, it may be difficult, but don't give up hope. And the reason that we should not give up hope is because of the next observation I'd like us to make and that is that God doesn't leave us even when we leave him. God doesn't leave us even when we leave him here is Abraham and he is supposed to be sustained in the land and he panics decides to do something foolish go into Egypt and next week I'm going to tell you about some people I have their letters in my file. Who in the midst of financial need have done a very foolish thing in one or two instances it is man who without their wife knowing it invested money in a get rich quick scheme that they found hoping to cash in on all of this money only to discover that their nest egg became a yoke and it didn't work at all. This God abandoned us then because you see, there are two different kinds of famines, there's the famine over which we have absolutely no control.
That's the famine that Abraham had when he was in Egypt you don't control those kinds of things, none of us controls the economy or that company in which we work.
We can't control that but the famine I'm putting it" that Abraham experienced when he was in Egypt that mass was self created today. There is some of you who are in a self-created hard place. Somebody told you don't marry that guy and you thought that you knew better, but they were right, weren't they somebody said no, no, your wife told you don't invest money there. I don't know why it is, but women have this for sense or six cents. They have more sense than we do anyway and and they say no and and you know better, but the point is this that some messes are self-made does God say, well, Abraham, you know, when you left the promised land to go into Egypt.
I stopped at the border because I'm not going to have anything to do with somebody who so disobeys me and uses deceit in order to get ahead in to save his neck got say that no God walks with us, God is there with us. God accompanies Abraham into Egypt. God brings a play on Cheryl for Abraham's benefit. God restores Abraham even though his testimony is lost, and he discovers that Tim you know what this God who led me is also the God who forgives me he's the God who restores me and he's the God that I can worship again. I can build another altar I can come back from my backsliding. Some of you, and you know who you are. You have been come so cynical in your walk with God.
There is no longer really warm fellowship because you feel that God wasn't there for you and you say to yourself I'm in a mess I made it God's not helping me in it. If you're a believer. God is with you there, he is for you. He's a roofing for you, but he wants you to come back into fellowship. He wants you to say that I've strayed long enough. I've done my own thing long enough.
I want to come back because it is better. It is better to have a dry well in Canaan, then it is the lush pasture land of Egypt. It is better to have a dry well then a poisoned oasis so the Lord says return to me.
Believe me and trust me there's a final lesson and it really is the bottom line of everything every famine we go through every famine is in test of our trust. Now of course when I speak about famines in the next message on the talk about the need for us as a community to walk through famine, but for now I'm talking about us as individuals.
It is always always a test.
We have to just stand back of this passage and think about it again. You never get tired about thinking about the Scriptures and meditating on it why he did Abraham say if we go down into Egypt, they may kill me what you mean, they may kill me. Was there any chance in the world that Abraham could die in Egypt and be killed off course not.
Why, what's because God just plainly told him I'm giving you this land that I'm giving it to your descendents. He didn't have any descendents at that point.
How could the promise of God, possibly be fulfilled if the Egyptians had killed even of Abraham and said I'm going down to Egypt. He should've simply said that I'm going down were going to tell the truth. My life is in God's hands. It's not in Pharaoh's hands.
God gave me a promise that someday through my seed. This land would be populated and that's good enough for me, my life in God is secure. Very interesting that in the book of Galatians chapter 3 verse eight.
You know what the apostle Paul says. He says that when God said to Abraham in thy seed the nations of the earth shall be blessed. He actually said that Abraham believed the gospel.
He said the gospel was preached to Abraham we look at the text and we say boilers no gospel here nothing about Jesus dying person know all that will eventually come to pass, but inherent with in the promise that in thy seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed within that promise there was in detail the coming of Jesus, the Redeemer, while the bottom line with Abraham experienced a crisis of faith.
He could not trust God to continue to lead there yes but beyond that he couldn't grasp it, and he failed every famine is a test.
Can we trust God no matter whether it's a famine we've created for one created us. Can we trust him. That's always the issue some time ago when I landed at O'Hare Field, the plane that I was on stopped at a gate was very far from baggage claim. Shortly after I got off the plane, I found myself in step with a young mother want to describe her to you.
She had a baby in one arm she was pulling her suitcase with the other hand, and she had a little toddler perhaps three trying to keep up with her going ahead and behind as little toddlers do, and I had a free hand. So I said to her, we would you let me pull your suitcase. I have only one briefcase, I'd be glad to. She don't know she says she's not I can handle it. I said I promise I will stay in step with you where ever you are going. Just let me pull it for you know know know I'll take care of it later on as I meditated on that. I realize that she was just obeying a little bit of common sense and wisdom. You just don't trust a man you've never met before.
Fact is, I could've taken that suitcase and in 10 steps or less been in the crowd and disappear and then what was she to do but I thought to myself how different that all would have ended if she had known me she'd been a member of Moody Church or in a tender if she knew me and I to sit mad. Pull your suitcase for you. May I take it and she probably would've several sure here's my suitcase and by the way, here's the baby to and then I thought about how Jesus walks with us in life how we are carrying our suitcases and trying to manage in trying to manipulate and and trying to control and some of that all may not be wrong, but at the end of the day Jesus said don't you see the nine beside you went you let me carry your baggage instead of just praying all the time frazzled prayers that have no faith. Oh God, help me help me help me help me. Nothing wrong with that Peter prayed in desperation and said help me. I perish and work for him, but I think in here, of course, I'm just using my imagination. I think that in heaven.
All of the Angels are processing these prayers and taking a lot of them just throwing them in the wastebasket because what they're saying is father. They keep asking you for help, but one thing they will not do and that is trust.
They will not take their sin and their failure and their concern and their deserts and their famines and just turn them over to me doesn't mean it's an immediate answer but you are walking with somebody beside you, whom if you knew his heart and I know I desire to know his heart and wouldn't claim that I know his heart completely in any way it say let me carry it for you. I cannot abandoned you, I'm walking in your direction.
And if you're going the wrong direction.
I'll even lead you in the right direction, but today can we tell Jesus that we give him our suitcase may be a relational issue may be a financial issue could be a health issue. The Bible does say cast all your burdens upon the him because he cares for you. He really cares for you knows the famine that you're going through. Knows how it's going and knows your part in it today at The Moody Church were going to have the privilege of singing in just a moment, and when that happens. Prayer partners are going to step out out of the aisles.
I'm told we have about 27 different places in the sanctuary where you can find a prayer partner. If you're in the balcony and go up the stairs will be at the top of the stairs in the rotunda. What I want you to do is to ask this prayer partner and you don't even have to ask them because they are ready to simply take your request in a single set and committed to God and trust him to do it now. That's not the end of it, but I want you to do this morning. I would like you to do every day of your life as I try to do we always live in surrender, not just prayer though.
Thank God for prayer, but in submission to God because what we'd like to see here at The Moody Church is to see God answer so many prayers because they are prayers made in faith and commitment because he really does care for you. He really does. Let's pray father, we thank you today for the story of Abraham, and even in his failure.
We see ourselves now restore your people Lord, their people going through times of very great famine. Some can pay their bills.
Other people are going through times of stress. Questioning your will, not knowing where you want them. Lord, every person everyone, including the one on this platform is all filled with questions concerns burdens today in faith, we give them to you. Help your people to connect to be willing to share that we might see your glory in this place, and for those who've never trusted Christ as Savior.
May they lay there for down and receive you today.
In Jesus name Amen amen. Let's all stand to sing show on today's Moody Church. Our astronauts are continued a series on famines, deserts and other hard places as he spoke on trusting God when the wells are dry next week. Part three in this series, and a message tracing the remarkable story of Ruth story of empty stomachs, empty arm.
This seven part series can be yours on CD for a gift of any amount Moody Church. Our call 1-800-215-5001. Let us know you'd like to support Moody Church's ministry are think you will be a set of CDs designed to help us prepare for the hard times may be coming. Just call 1-800-215-5081 or you can write to us at Moody Church media 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 mention famines, deserts and other hard places when you write or call online go to moodyoffer.com that's moodyoffer.com join us next time for another Moody Church. Our with pastor Erwin lutes are in the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church