God Helps Us Obey Him
Have you been through a test before? Did you doubt that you could make it through the test? I’m sure you are no stranger to difficulty but what if I told you that God can provide you with the means necessary for you to obey Him through the tests of life? If you rely upon His word and trust Him, you will find His provision. There are times when God tests us but He provides us with the strength necessary to get through it and rewards us at the end of the test. We will find in this chapter of how God dealt with Abraham. We will discover that God’s dealing with Abraham is similar in how God deals with us as believers. If you look at Abraham, you will find the same principle of testing in your own life. I pray that this message will give you an understanding of how God wants to help you through the tests of life. We see that in the first verse that…
1. The Test of Obedience V1-12
Abraham is tested by God. As believers, we experience testing times in our lives. The purpose of these trials is to confirm our faith. In James 1:2-3, James writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” The trying or testing of our faith gives us patience. What does patience mean? Patience is the quality of forbearance and self-control which shows itself particularly in a willingness to wait upon God and his will. Abraham is passing the test because he is prepared by the promises of God and the promises of God has prepared Him for this particular test. What was the main promise God gave Abraham? We can read the promise given to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. It reads, “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Abraham knew that God cannot lie as Numbers 23:19 and Titus 1:2 tell us. Abraham had faith in God’s character. Abraham lived by the promises of God and not by what he naturally saw. The Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that we are to live by faith and not by sight. Paul writes in Hebrews 11:8 on Abraham’s faithful obedience, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”He also mentions Abraham’s faith offering up Isaac in Hebrews 11:17-19, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Abraham’s faith was rooted in what God had told him beforehand and not in what he saw. He was patient because he knew God was able to raise Isaac up from the dead. It was through Isaac that the Seed would be born in order to provide redemption.
This particular point in Abraham’s life is a representation of the tests we go through as believers. We know God doesn’t tempt anyone because James 1:13 says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:” God will never tempt us to do wrong but He tests us as believers to do right. Peter also had something to say about testing in 1 Peter 4:12-13, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” So don’t think the tests are given to disprove you but to prove your faith.
However, God not only tests us but He allows us to be tempted. Notice I said, “Allowed.” God doesn’t tempt us but He allows temptation. Look at the example of Job in Job 1:6-12, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” Biblically speaking, God tests us and He allows temptation to come to us. He doesn’t tempt us to do evil.
Warren Wiersbe shares wisdom on testing and temptation. “Learn to distinguish between trials and temptations. Temptations come from our desires within us (James 1:12-16), while trials come from the Lord who has a special purpose to fulfill. Temptations are used by the Devil to bring out the worst in us, but trials are used by the Holy Spirit to bring out the best in us.”
2. The Provision of Obedience V13-14
At the end of the test, Abraham discovers God is Jehovah-Jireh, meaning, “The Lord Will Provide.” You’ll always discover a new aspect of God at the end of the test. Instead of Isaac being sacrificed, God provided a ram in his place. Isn’t it refreshing to know that the Lamb of God took our place? Jesus became the substitutionary sacrifice to redeem us. As the ram became the substitute so did Jesus become our substitute to redeem us from the power of sin, death and the grave. Hebrews 5:8 states, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” His obedience is our salvation and He learned obedience through suffering. Obviously, this is a type of what is to come. As Abraham offered his only son on Mount Moriah so did God send His only Son on Mount Calvary which is the same mountain range. Abraham seen the whole picture. He got a glimpse of the redemptive plan of God. Friends, God will provide you with the strength to obey His will. He will give you the strength to live in total surrender to His plan if you will trust in Him like Abraham did. If God can provide the sacrifice necessary to save you then He can provide you with the strength necessary to obey Him. His provision is always linked to obedience.
I read a story of Dr. Robert Schindler and his wife. They founded a mission hospital associated with radio station ELWA in Monrovia, Liberia. In their book Mission Possible they wrote, “For us, it was a continued exercise of faith that we would have the right drugs and supplies at the right time. We recall how much we counted on our X-ray machine, something we take for granted [at home]. We even had the opportunity to get an extra one when a friend of ours, a doctor with the U.S. Embassy, asked if we could use a portable X-ray machine. But then as the months dragged out, we knew it must be lost at sea. Then one day our big X-ray machine stopped working. We found it was a major problem which would take several months to fix. But that very afternoon, the ELWA truck pulled up to the hospital with a huge crate from port. You guessed it—it was the portable X-ray machine! We plugged it in, and it worked! We didn’t lose a day for X-rays.” If you are on mission from God He will provide you with the means necessary to carry out His will. He did it for Abraham and Jesus and he will do it for you. The Lord will always provide for you. Your willingness to obey during the test will always be met by the provision of our sovereign God.
3. The Reward of Obedience V15-19
Also, God desires to reward those who are obedient to Him. Abraham was rewarded according to verse 18. It states, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” If we obey His voice, we will see the reward. Abraham was willing to choose God over anything else. Friends, God knows what is best for you and if you live in total surrender to God’s will for your life you will never lose. Even though the command from God seemed illogical, Abraham obeyed. The trials you go through is never wasted because the reward is greater than the trial. 1 Peter 5:10 states, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” Job 23:10 harmonizes with this truth, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Today, we have the blessing of Abraham according to Galatians 3:13-14, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” If we live by faith alone we can receive all God has for us through Jesus Christ.
William Cowper wrote a hymn called, “The Lord Will Provide.”
The saints should never be dismay’d,
Nor sink in hopeless fear;
For when they least expect His aid,
The Saviour will appear.This Abraham found: he raised the knife;
God saw, and said, “Forbear!
Yon ram shall yield his meaner life;
Behold the victim there.”Once David seem’d Saul’s certain prey;
But hark! the foe’s at hand;
Saul turns his arms another way,
To save the invaded land.When Jonah sunk beneath the wave,
He thought to rise no more;
But God prepared a fish to save,
And bear him to the shore.Blest proofs of power and grace divine,
That meet us in His Word!
May every deep-felt care of mine
Be trusted with the Lord.Wait for His seasonable aid,
And though it tarry, wait;
The promise may be long delay’d,
But cannot come too late.
Will you heed the call to salvation? God’s provision is stronger than any problem of sin. Are you worried? God has the answer. Are you paralyzed by fear? God has the answer. God is calling you sinner. What about those who are called to labor in the ministry? Are you still holding onto doubt? If God called you to it don’t you think He can provide you with His confidence? Don’t ignore the call of God. Obey like Abraham and you won’t lose. Surrender all to Him. Will you say, “Here I am” like Abraham? The provision is here and all you have to do is call upon Jesus to save you. Obey the call to salvation and the command to obey Him. You won’t lose. God will help you. Whatever situation you are in God will help you. He provides what you need but you need to place faith in Him. Come to the Provider. Let Him save you and use you as his willing vessel. Jehovah-Jireh can give you the strength obey Him if you trust in Him. Whatever the case, God provides.