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Trusting God When The Wells Are Dry Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
June 16, 2021 1:00 am

Trusting God When The Wells Are Dry Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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June 16, 2021 1:00 am

When God wants to deepen our spiritual maturity, He sometimes takes away all the comforts we’re used to. Some of us move out of state, where a new job falls apart. Some of us are told that we have only 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.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.

When God wants to deepen our spiritual maturity, He sometimes takes away all the comforts we've been used to. It's possible for God to lead His people into the wilderness for their greater good and His greater glory. That's what happened for Abraham.

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, you're speaking about famines, deserts, and other hard places. And today, you're going to tell us about a man who had it all and left it all to follow God. Well, Dave, you know, speaking of Abraham, indeed, he did leave it all to follow God.

He came from Ur of the Chaldees to the land that God gave him. But we're going to be talking about his failure in going into Egypt when there was a famine in the land. Now, I need to let you know that I believe this message is going to be of tremendous blessing to our listeners.

Haven't we all at times made bad decisions and as a result, we find ourselves in some kind of a famine? Well, that's where Abraham was. And we're going to learn that God is with us even when the wells are dry. You know, as you are blessed, and I believe that you will be as you listen to this message, remember it is because other people have invested in this ministry.

And that's why Running to Win can be in more than 20 different countries in three different languages. Have you ever considered becoming a part of the Running to Win family, as I like to put it? Have you ever considered becoming what we call an endurance partner, somebody who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts? Here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com.

RTWOffer.com, click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, let us listen carefully as we learn from the life of one who walked with God but also walked away from Him. 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. Well, what do 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 a 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 of 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 wheat fields in this great nation, we'll not experience a famine.

But we may experience a financial downturn. And sometimes during those times of struggle, and 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 famines.

But today we're going to look at the life of a man who experienced an unexpected famine, and what he did, what he did right, 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 Ur of the Chaldees, and God called him and told him that he was to go into a land that God would show him.

He traveled without a map. Chapter 12 verse 1, 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 renamed names because that's what I'm primarily used 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 wonder how he convinced Sarah that he should do this. I've heard from God. Let's go. Can you imagine that?

Husbands, try it. So they come into the land, and behold, the Canaanite is there, but he's in the land, and the Lord confirms this is the land I have chosen for you. God confirms it. And Abraham builds an altar onto the Lord, verse 7, and he worships to the Lord. And in verse 8, he went to Bethel on the west side and Ai on the east, and there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord, and Abraham journeyed on.

Still going toward the Negev, that means the desert. Is he in the will of God? Yes. Is he there by obedience to God?

Yes. This land was a gift to him from God, and he was obedient in following the Lord. That's why we're surprised when we get to verse 10. In verse 10, we read, now there was a famine in the land, 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 too. 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 obedient to God experienced a severe famine. Remember 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 experienced. 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. Well, the famine came to Abraham, and as trials do, they came without instructions. There was no tag on it from God saying, Abraham, you have a severe famine, and you've got a wife, and you've got camels and servants to take care of.

I want you to do this. No, trials come without instructions, without guidance, and there we are. God has a purpose, but we sure don't know what it is when we're 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 of 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 was because of a famine. But in this instance, Abraham, in the land that God 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 saved.

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 a half 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 she is 65, by the way, and still so beautiful that he knows that the Egyptians will see her, and they will want her, and that Pharaoh will want her. Well, you say age 65, she's starting to get up there. Remember that the people in those days lived longer, and then remember that Liz Taylor lived to 79.

I Googled that on the internet this morning. That's why I'm able to share that little bit of news with you. Normally, things like that don't stick in my mind, and she remained and kept her beauty into older age. I wouldn't say that 79 is old age.

I think you're actually just getting started when you're in your 70s, but nonetheless, Sarah was very beautiful, stunning in appearance. And so what happened now is that his 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. And that's exactly what happens. You'll notice it says that 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, 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. It's like the Sunday school boy said when he was asked what a lie was. He says, a lie is an abomination unto the Lord, but a very present help in time of trouble.

Could I say in parentheses 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 lie seems to be working, but there is a shadow over Abraham's soul, no question about it.

And 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, well, why doesn't the Lord afflict Abraham? God had something special for Abraham and Sarah. So instead of afflicting 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 didn't 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. And 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, but he did what seemed right, and it involved deceit. And here he is being reprimanded by a pagan king. The pagan king says, get out of here. Do 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. Could Abraham say that with integrity?

No. It's 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 has 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 and 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, wasn't it? David bounced back from his adultery. He received God's forgiveness.

He was back in fellowship, but 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, it influenced a man by the name of 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 Lot looked at the riches of Egypt, and even when Lot came out of Egypt, Egypt did not come out of Lot's heart.

He had seen something that he wanted, and he never got over it. You say, well, Pastor Lutzer, is there any evidence for that? And the answer is yes. In chapter 13, where Abraham and Lot separate because they all needed their own pasture land, Lot, Abraham said, you can choose whatever you want, and I'll take the opposite. Verse 10 of chapter 13, Lot 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 an 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 you 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 is born, and the 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 say, well, how do I know that he's back in fellowship? Chapter 13 opens with him going to the Negev and then going to Bethel, where he had been at the beginning at first. And you'll notice it says in verse 4, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abraham called on the name of the Lord.

The backslider was worshipping God again, and the backslider came home and was restored by God. You say, well, Pastor Lutzer, what's the bottom line here? How does this change our lives and 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, the God who saves us is the God who sustains us. The God who went with Abraham into the land would have 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. There's a very interesting passage in the 26th chapter of Genesis. Genesis chapter 26, Isaac, the son of Abraham. It says, chapter 26, verse 1, now there was a famine in the land besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar 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, dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. And then God reiterates his covenant with Isaac. And Isaac trusts 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 Isaac, it says in verse 12, Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundred fold.

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 famine. Not going 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. Well, my friend, wouldn't it be wonderful if Abraham had followed that example, the example actually of his son, the willingness to stay in the land rather than leaving the land.

But as all of us know, Abraham decided to go into Egypt, and that's where trouble began. We all need to remind ourselves that God is with us no matter where we are. I believe that it's so important that you listen to Running to Win.

Listen next time because we need to hear the end of this story, don't we? Meanwhile, have you ever considered becoming a partner with us in the ministry of Running to Win, an endurance partner, somebody who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts? I'm holding in my hand a letter from someone named David who talks about the fact that his wife went to be with the Lord last June, he says, and he talks about the blessing that this ministry is to him and to other members of his family. He is among thousands upon thousands to whom we minister because of people like you.

Endurance partners are those who stand with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. Here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com. Click on the endurance partner button, RTWOffer.com, the endurance partner button, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That phone number again, 1-888-218-9337.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. When tough times come and they're coming, God shakes us up to make sure we remember who our real provider is. Downsizing may not be fun, but it may be necessary when the money dries up and God works to develop our characters. Next time, some key principles to hang on to when your crisis comes. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-03 23:26:05 / 2023-11-03 23:34:32 / 8

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