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Warning: Doubt Can Be Hazardous To Your Health!
Genesis 12:10-20
Skip Heitzig

Genesis 12 (NKJV™)
10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land.
11 And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance.
12 "Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, 'This is his wife'; and they will kill me, but they will let you live.
13 "Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that Imay live because of you."
14 So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful.
15 The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh's house.
16 He treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels.
17 But the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife.
18 And Pharaoh called Abram and said, "What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?
19 "Why did you say, 'She is my sister'? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way."
20 So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Making Your Mark

Doubting God's promises is often the foundational reason we don't experience His blessing. The children of Israel wandered for forty years before entering the Land. Why? "They were not allowed to enter his rest because of their unbelief" (Hebrews 11:19). Their legacy was often to doubt, for the Psalmist says that they, "limited the Holy One of Israel" (Ps. 78:41). Now, even Abraham, the father of faith, struggles with trusting the most trustworthy Being that ever was!

Are you satisfied with just getting through life or do you want to make a difference? God calls each of us to play an important role during our lifetime, but we often forget to seek His will. Join Pastor Skip Heitzig as he looks at the life of Abraham in this two-volume series. Abraham had both ups and downs when it came to his spiritual journey, but he made a lasting mark deep within the fabric of three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. You may find striking parallels between Abraham's life and your own experiences. Learn how to leave a lasting impression on your world as you study the life of this great father of faith. Don't just live--make a mark with your life!

FREE - Download Entire Series (MP3) (Help) | Buy series | Buy audiobook

Outline

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  1. Failed Examination (vv. 10-15)
    A. He Left the Land of Promise
    B. He Lied About His Wife
  2. False Confirmation (v. 16)
    A. Nonresistance
    B. Material Favor
  3. Fierce Repercussions (vv. 17-20)
    A. Afflicted Others
    B. Admonished by Others
    C. Reputation before Others

Transcript

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Well good evening, would you open your Bibles to Genesis chapter 12. Now before I explain this box that's up here tonight and I will, just a sort of a technical announcement that I'm forced to give, on your bulletin number 3, a,b, and c on number have nothing absolutely at all to do with our message tonight. I don't know where it came from, those are actually points that came from a message a month ago on heaven, so you can just scratch those out and we'll get to it when we get there but otherwise you're going to be wondering, "What on earth does that mean?" It means nothing, it means we need proofreaders, that's all it means. But before we begin tonight would you welcome our radio audience who would be listening around America? You remember back in 1994 there was a lawsuit against McDonald's corporation for its coffee being too hot. And you know that a warning label was then affixed to it in bigger bolder letters that said, "HOT." Just about everything today has warning labels because of lawsuits. I have this box up here because in it was given to me this week a chainsaw as a gift for my birthday by one of my staff members. And I'm reading through it and I decided to read the warning page. And it was an interesting warning, there were several things it was telling you to stay away from. It said, "Do not operate chain saw while upset." They've seen too many movies. It struck me as funny so I decided what other things in my house had odd warning signs. So, we were at the table and I put my favorite hot sauce out and on the back is this warning label, it says, "Warning, must be strong to handle this sauce. Keep out of the reach of children. Do not play tricks on the weak or elderly with this sauce." No joke, it's as if they knew I was going to get this sauce. Well this struck me as odd so I actually found a website called "101 Dumb Warnings," on different products that are put out. For instance, on a brand of hair color, it says, "Do not use as an ice cream topping." On a car sunshade, you know the kind you put in the windshield to keep the sun out during the day has this, "Warning, remove shade before operating vehicle." How dumb do they think we are? A blow dryer said, "Warning, do not use while sleeping." A Rowenta iron has this, "Warning, never iron clothes while on the body." These are true. That's sad, that's the sad thing. And finally, a mattress company has this: "Warning do not attempt to swallow." What, a mattress? I'd actually like to see that.

Well, if Abram could look back on the episode you are about to read of he may want to put a warning sign over that episode that would read: "Warning, doubt, disbelief, may be hazardous to your health," because it's hazardous not only to his health but a lot of other people we'll read about in this story. In fact, I even think we should affix a warning tag to Abram himself: "Warning: Disobedient patriarch, stay away from." You'll see what I mean in just a minute. Now it's interesting that (get the hot sauce here) that Paul referred to this man as the father of all those who believe. And he was, we'll see why as we go on through his story in this book. But tonight here in this episode, in these verses, he becomes an example of what not to do, an example of doubt, an example of disbelief. Now let's be fair, he's just starting out, he's a fledgling believer, this I know. He's just getting his sea legs you might say when it comes to trusting God. So he's learning what it means to walk with Godand when you do that, when you first start out, well it's sort of like being a child, isn't it? Children are very quick to believe but they're also very quick to get afraid even in their faith. They want to trust Mom and Dad implicitly but then there are sometimes where they just get so afraid. I remember the day my father tried to get me to jump off a diving board into a swimming pool. "Jump," he said. "No." "Go ahead, jump, you'll be okay." "No, I'll die." "No, you won't die, I'll catch you, don't worry." "No." Well I finally jumped. Th sad thing is I was thirty years old when that happened (no, I'm just kidding). Abram is about to learn a valuable lesson. We're going to read verse 10 through verse 20 tonight. The valuable lesson is this: It is safer to trust God when the cupboards are bare than to be out of the will of God in a land of abundance. This is Abram's first test of faith, by the way, and if it's any encouragement to you, understand that he failed his first test of faith in the new land, the promised land. I like that because the Bible never flatters its heroes. It never paints a rosy picture but always tells us the truth and their flaws and their foibles. Now, your faith is going to be tested, I'll just tell you that right off the bat, I know that's no new news to you, you've already experienced that. Your faith in Christ will be tested. It's normal.

I heard about a man who was a gardener and he lofed his garden. He kept a great lawn, perfectly green lawn, he was so proud of it. But one year it was overrun with dandelions and he tried everything to get rid of them, couldn't do it. Finally he wrote the Department of Agriculture saying, "I've tried everything, what should I try next?" And they wrote back saying, "Try getting used to them." And I think we could use that advice, when it comes to trials, when it comes to testings in our own life, get used to them. You're going to have them, and we'll see tonight why. But this word of encouragement to you, his child, to go through a hard period of testing, a furnace of testing, understand that he has his eye on the clock and he has hand on the thermostat. He knows what you can take.

Let's begin tonight and just read the whole section together. "Now there was a famine in the land (verse 10) and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there for the famine was severe in the land. And it came to pass when he was close to entering Egypt that he said to Sarai his wife, 'Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance (sound pretty goo, huh? Nice guy. Well, let's keep reading.) Therefore it will happen when the Egyptians see you that they will say, 'This is wife,' and they will kill me but they will let you live. Please say you are my sister that it be well with me for your sake and that I may live because of you.' So it was when Abram came into Egypt that the Egyptians saw the woman that she was very beautiful, the princes of pharaoh also saw her and commended her to pharaoh. And the woman was taken to pharaoh's house, he treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys; male and female servants; female donkeys and camels. But the Lord plagued pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife. And pharaoh called Abram and said, 'What is this that you have done to me? Why did you not tell me she was your wife? Why did you say she is my sister? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore here is your wife, take her and go your way. So pharaoh commanded his men concerning him and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had." I would describe Abram's experience at this point with three phases: a failed examination, a false confirmation, and fierce repercussions. Well in verse 10 it says there was a famine in the land. Now I know that's hard for us relate to, what that really means back then, after all when we're hungry we go to a restaurant or we go to the supermarket and stuff is there. In those days, it was much more critical, they lived closer to the land. Now keep in min where Abram is from, he used to live in Ur of the Chaldees in Mesopotamia by two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates that formed a fertile delta where crops were grown year round. He was taken care of. I believe he probably never experienced a famine in his life because of where he lived. Now he leaves that and he goes to the land of Israel which is a very different land. If you've ever seen it, you know what I mean, it is dependent totally upon annual rainfall, very few rivers, very little irrigation , they depend on the, what they call the Yuray or the early rain and the Malkosh or the latter rain. If it doesn't get much rain, it doesn't' get much crops and there is a famine. That's the situation he finds himself in. He's left home, he's left that standard of living, he's left the riverbanks of the Tigris and the Euphrates, and even Haran was there by the riverbanks of Euphrates. Now he's in a whole new place, a whole new way of life. So Egypt would feel a lot more like home to him than Canaan would because after all the Nile River is there, that was called the breadbasket of the ancient world. And so for him to go to Egypt would be sort of like going back home to him. But the question would be to us, this is what we examine: Why, after God calls him to go to 'the land of promise,' why is there a famine? Here's why: Because Abram is in school, that's why? And this class, let's call it Faith 101. This is an object lesson to this man in faith. God gave him promises, enough for him to leave and go, but now he gets there, land of promise dried up. Faith is like a muscle. You know your muscle, if you want to work it out and get it stronger, you apply pressure to it, you stack up the weights and you push, you pump iron, you are working your muscle against the pressure, against the resistance. There's no difference with faith. You see, how would you ever know if your faith is of any value unless it got tested from time to time? You could talk about trusting God, believing God, you know it's easy to believe God when the cupboards are full. It's easy to believe God when the economy is on an upswing, there's money in the bank and life is smiling at you. Oh you can talk about trusting God all day long. When there's a famine in the land, when hardship comes, when trouble comes your way, it's a different animal.

Tonight in this group some of you are enjoying the fat of the land. Life is good, life has never been better. And I would say go you, "Great. God bless you. Enjoy it as a gift from God." But I also recognize that others here are experiencing something far different. You look around and it seems so desolate, no provision. Why? Because God is allowing you to be stronger. You cannot grow spiritually on a steady diet of blessings only. If God blessed you every day and you never got any hardship or you saw all hardship as an anti-blessing, how would you ever know if your faith is of any value?

You now, I was reading a little story about golf balls, not that I read lots of stories about golf balls but it piqued my attention. You see when they first started manufacturing golf balls, they thought the smoother the ball, the further it would travel and they discovered the opposite is true. They discovered that if they beat on it or roughed it up a little bit, the ball would actually go further. So they started manufacturing those little balls, they are still that way to this day, with little dimples all over, and they've discovered that those flaws for lack of a better term, those beatings make the ball go further. Why would God allow you to go through a trial? Maybe he wants you to go a little further. It's for your own good.

Well I mentioned that he failed the examination, he failed the test, what do I mean by that? Well number one, he left the land of Canaan. Well so what, it's pragmatic, I mean his family is starving and after all he wants to provide for his family, so any sane man would leave this place where there's a famine and go to Egypt, perhaps. But God never told him to go to Egypt, God told him to go to Canaan, God said, "I'm going to bless you in that land." There's no indication that God told him to go, this is all on his own. In the scripture and I know a lot of you know this, Egypt becomes a type of the world because Egypt is predictable, there is the Nile River, it does provide food regularly for people, you don't have to live by faith. Going to Egypt is so often seen as trusting in the resources of the world and backsliding from a life of faith. There are exceptions, I know this, in fact sometimes God will tell his people to go to Egypt for protection or for even to live, God called Jacob and told him to go down to Egypt with his sons because Joseph was there and he said, "Don't be afraid to go to Egypt, I will make you a great nation there." We know that Joseph, the foster father of Jesus was told, "Take the child and Mary and go to Egypt," because of King Herod. But more often than not, Egypt is seen as sort of a spiritual copout, a place of not trusting God, a place of going back to the flesh, lack of faith. In Isaiah 31 we read, "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen but do not look to the holy one of Israel or seek help from the Lord."

Well put yourself in Abram's sandals. He listened to God, he welled up with faith, he believed and he went to Canaan. As soon as he gets to Canaan, there's a famine in the Promised Land? Listen, this is the Promised Land, this is the land of promise, this is the land of blessing. Where's the blessing? Abram's journey of faith is not much different than our own. Think of it: you heard the gospel, you responded, you believed, you trusted Christ and received him as your Lord and Savior. And if I was to describe your early life as a Christian, I would say you were in a bubble, a bubble of wonder, a bubble of joy, you could see so clearly, everything was like, "Wow! Why didn't I do this earlier?" But then one day the bubble popped. Do you remember that day? Do you remember the day when the honeymoon so to speak was over? Some event, some circumstance came into your life that caused your faith now to be challenged, to be tested? Now this surprises some young Christians. They become absolutely astonished by it, stunned by it, because some enter the Christian faith with false notions, they have unrealistic expectations. "This is the Promised Land." And here they are following Christ and then something bad happens, they get all upset.

I was a young Christian, I had a Honda motorcycle, I took it to an even one night where I was going to help preach the gospel and play in this musical band for evangelism. I was obeying God, I was giving him my resources, my time, I get to thisplace, it was a wonderful night, somebody didn't like the message that night, took my motorcycle, poured gas all over it, exploded it to light the building on fire. And I thought, "Oh great God, following you gets my motorcycle blown up. It was working great before I received you." But now, why is it that when I come into the Promised Land that these things happen? Now, when the bubble pops, when the testing comes, when the hardship comes, it's very very critical because you at that point are tempted to go back to Egypt, to go back to a place of familiarity because you have been thinking, even though not out loud, thoughts like this, "It's okay to trust God as long as everything goes okay, as long as things go my way. But when trouble comes, when hardship comes, when famine comes, you start looking to the world for help. I could give you an easy example: Maybe you're single, you've been single for a long time in your view, much longer than you would expect God to have answered your prayer. So you come one day to just sort of a breaking point and you say something like, "Lord look, I've given you enough time and I've trusted you and I'm still single. So forget trusting you, I guess I'll have to do this myself. And I'll just even find some unsaved person and date them and marry them." Be careful. Be careful in any of those life situations, any step away from the Lord's will is a step toward Egypt.

Well, he left the Promised Land, let's go on. He lied, didn't he? He lied about his wife. He stops on the way there and he has this little chat with her and he butters her up and he says, "You know you're really beautiful." "Why thank you, honey." "No I mean like really beautiful. In fact you're so beautiful that when we get into this land, they might kill me, so here's my strategy. We'll lie." Now, keep in mind this is the father of all those who believe. Mr. Faith. And his strategy is, "Let's just tell a lie." Well it's sort of a lie, it's a half lie." Because Sarah according to chapter 20 is his half sister, half sister. He married her but they had different mothers but the same father because of a subsequent marriage of the dad. They got married, so technically, technically she's the half sister. So it's a, it's a half a truth. But a half a truth is also a half a lie and this was certainly meant to deceive.

Let me give you a little background of what's going on. Egyptians really liked Semitic women. In fact they preferred their beauty over their own women because Egyptian me and it's written in the ancient annals and papyri of Egypt, Egyptian men used to say that their own women faded too quickly. So there was a common royal practice among the dynasties of Egypt to just take a woman that you saw was beautiful and if she's married, you can't commit adultery so you kill the husband. And Abram knew this custom. Now at this point, if you know your history and you know that Sarah is 65 years of age at this point, you're going, "Wait a minute, she's 65 years old and he's worried?" Isn't that cool? Sixty-five years old and she's still a knockout. And he knows it and he's trying to cover his own bases. Actually there are several ancient sources that talk about Sarah's beauty. Some of the ancient Arabic sources say that she got her beauty from Eve to whom God gave a third of all the beauty, saying that Sarah had a perfect figure. In fact, there are some ancient stories and they're probably just myths but the myth is that she was so beautiful that Abram in going to Egypt put her in a chest, a box. I mean she could breathe in the box but carrying her in the box as if it were cargo because she was so beautiful, she didn't want anybody to see but at the border of Egypt they forced him to open the box, they saw how beautiful she was and they whisked her off to the pharaoh. This is a beautiful gal. But his strategy is to lie. And here's the point here: One sin leads to another sin. Doesn't it? Have you seen that? Doubt, he went from trust to doubt, now from doubt to scheming. He went from doubt to scheming.

I want you to notice something that is not in our text so far, there is no mention of God at all so far in the text. No mention that he's talking to God about the famine or that he asks for God's direction. There's no prayer going on, there's no worship. We know that he builds an altar in Canaan but he's leaving Canaan and there's no record in the Bible of this guy ever praying, worshipping or fellowshipping with God until he returns back. Now I want you to notice that, I want you to go back to verse 8 and look at the end where it says that there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. Then we have our story and we already read it.

Now look at chapter 13, "Then Abram went up form Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot went with him to the south. Abram was very rich in livestock, silver and gold. He went on his journey from the south as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place the altar, of the altar which he had made there at first and there Abram called on the name of the Lord." He prayed, at both ends of it but not during it. He's left fellowship with God, he's left worship with God, he has left prayer to God. It's gone, it's past, this is something he's doing on his own.

I had four years of Spanish and I'm not really good at it, I just know little bits of words and I can pronounce words good enough that people think, "Oh you speak it." No I don't. But I do remember that there's an interesting linguistic problem in the Spanish language. It's with the word Lord, it's the same word as mister. You would say, "Senor Smith, Senor Jones," and you would say, "Senor Jesus, (Hey-sus)." And you mean Lord, it's the same word, El Senor is the Lord. Now it sounds like you're just saying Mr. Jesus but you're saying Lord Jesus. We have the same problem in English, the problem is that we so often say Master but we really mean is Mister. We call him Lord but we just say, "Well, he's a nice guy. He's not really my master, enough that I would absolutely trust him implicitly through everything," is the problem that Abram is dealing with.

Well, let's go down to verse 15, that's the test, the failed examination. I draw your attention to two verses that are a false confirmation. "The princes of pharaoh also saw her and commended her to pharaoh, the woman was taken to pharaoh's house. He treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, male donkeys and camels." One of the things that happened to Abram when he got there and started going through his scheme is just how easily it flowed. It seemed to be like, "This is great, my little scheme is working. There's no resistance to it, there's no snags, in fact maybe," maybe you would be tempted to think, "This is a sign. This is a sign from God, because after all if you're in the center of God's will, things just flow perfectly, right?" No they don't necessarily. I bring this up because every now and then I'll deal with a person who will rationalize God's non-resistance or the fact that he didn't tackle them in the midst of their sin as a sign of God's approval. I heard somebody tell me one time, "Well you know I prayed about divorcing my wife. And I prayed about this affair, saying, 'God if you don't want me to do this, just stop it." How utterly lame that is when God has already revealed his will in the word. God isni't going to rearrange the universe to have the stars spell STOP when you go outside. He's not going to hang 2 billion watt speakers from the moon going, "Hey YOU, I see YOU, that's wrong." Yet some people take a flow, an ease, to mean God's hand must be upon it. Moreover, not only is there non-resistance, but he seems to be outwardly blessed because there's the mention of all of these things and the text would infer here that pharaoh is giving to Abram more material goods in terms of servants, donkeys, animals, etcetera. So think about it, Wow, he gets to Egypt; not only does the plan go according to his weird thinking but the enemy is blessing him because of it. However, there are consequences, there are grave consequences and we're going to see them in just a moment.

I want to read to you something that F. B. Myer wrote, an ancient commentator but this sentence says it all. He says, "The world may treat us well but that will be a poor compensation for our losses. There is no altar in Egypt, there is no fellowship with God, there are no promises." So I guess you need to ask yourself if you're tempted to go and trust back in the world again, is it really worth it? Is what you're gaing worth what you're losing because of it?

Well let's look at some of those repercussions, shall we? Verse 17, "But the Lord plagued pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife. Pharaoh called Abram and said, 'What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say she is my sister? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore here is your wife, take her and go your way.' So pharaoh commanded his men concerning them and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had." Question: Did Abram get away with it? No, he didn't. He didn't get away with it, he suffered repercussions. There's a proverb in Proverbs 16 that says, "The lot is cast into the lap but every decision is from the Lord." He's still sovereign. Or as Donald Gray Barnhouse used to reinterpret that verse, "Man throws the dice but it's God who makes the spots come up." The spots come up in Abram's life here. And what are those repercussions? Well, number one, others were hurt by his sin. Think of it, he places his wife in jeopardy as well as his servants and flocks and herds, and even pharaoh, the king of Egypt. I remember in school and you'll remember it too, an old axiom that says 'every action brings an equal and opposite reaction.' Now think about this: the disobedience of one dude caused all of these ramifications, all of these other people to be affected by his one sin. A runaway Christian is a menace to other people. A disobedient, doubting Christian is a menace to other people around him. You know, do you remember back to the beginning of chapter 12? God called this man to be a what? A blessing to others. "I'm going to make you a blessing. And the world will be blessed because of you." That will come true but right now he's not bringing the blessing of God upon Egypt, he's bringing the judgment of God, he's become a curse, he's become a stench to pharaoh.

It's like Aiken, Aiken who stole some money and some garments out of the camp and didn't dedicate them to the Lord. Because of that, all of Israel faced defeat at the town of Ai. Or David who numbered the people so that he could boast in how many were in his army and 70,000 people died because of his sin. Or Jonah, who got into a boat and thought, "I'm running away from God," placing the entire ship and all of its people in jeopardy because of his sin. So, others were hurt. The second thing that was a repercussion is that he is rebuked by an unbeliever. Did you hear this pharaoh? "what have you done, man?" Isn't this ironic? We're talking about Abram, the man of God, the man of faith, standing before a pagan king being rebuked by the pagan. Yeah, this is Abram, the guy that God made promises to, the guy that God said, "This is your land, you and your descendants." It sometimes amazes me but I believe that sometimes unbelievers have a better handle on how we ought to act than we do. Yeah, you see, unbelievers actually expect Christians to be honest, faithful, trustworthy, people of integrity. And the most painful thing is to watch a Christian on trial who has failed before the eyes of the world? How painful was it when Jimmy Swaggert was exposed on national television years ago by the media? In fact, it was really painful because it was one of Nightline's highest ratings as the world watched. Or when the amazing Randy on Johnny Carson exposed Peter Potoff as a fake, supposedly getting words of wisdom and words of knowledge when actually there was a little speaker in his ear and somebody was feeding him information about people. :You see, what Abram did in going to Egypt, he took off the pressure, he got food, etcetera, but it wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth it.

Reader's Digest had a little story of a man and his wife at the mall and they're walking through the store and this man spots a young, beautiful, curvy woman and he looks at her for along period of time. And the wife said, "Now let me ask you this question, was it worth it for the trouble you're now in?" Here's Abram standing before pharaoh being rebuked. Pause, "Abram, question, is it worth it for the trouble you're now in?"

Caused others to be hurt, was rebuked by an unbeliever, and I've got to say his reputation was soiled, number three. Look at verse 20, "Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had." Pharaoh sent him away but can you imagine the conversation in the palace that evening? "Can you believe that guy, this man of faith, this man of God, this guy who says he trusts in Yahweh? And what a bad reputation now." Just to make things worse he's going to do it again later on, this same kind of an episode, lying about his wife. And his son Isaac is going to do it too. Like father, like son.

So, a disobedient Christian doesn't help the lost because the disobedient Christian has lost his testimony. Remember Nathan to David? The prophet said to this king who had sinned morally? He said, "Oh yes, you're forgiven David but by doing this thing you have made the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme o show utter contempt. David, you have just given a boatload of dirty laundry to the enemy. You were already blaspheming us but now you gave them ammunition."

I talked to a man some years ago, said he was a Christian. I said, "Well that's neat, I'm a Christian too." And as he started talking, he talked about that while he was a Christian, he was involved in illegal activity, he got busted for it, he was angry that he got busted for it and he was going to go to jail because of it but he was trusting in the Lord. All this while claiming to be a Christian. I said, "Do me a favor, would you? Don't tell anybody you're a Christian until there is repentance in your life and you're following him in righteousness because all it's going to do is give everybody else a bad name." If doubting leads to disobeying, you become a curse to others, not a blessing, you lose your testimony. In fact, what some of us need perhaps is a warning label affixed to us: Warning: Disobedient believer. Because they're very dangerous. If you're taking notes, I want to give you three things to walk away with based on this, just three quick little things and we'll close. Number one, if the promised land you're in and I'm meaning your Christian life, is difficult, realize this: How else would you grow? How else could you grow? You're going to have tests and like the dandelion story, try getting used to them. Don't expect to be immune from tests, you would never grow or be of any value.

One of my favorite illustrations is that if you took a five-dollar bar of steel and made it into horseshoes, it would now be worth ten dollars. The same bar of steel if you made it into sewing needles with be worth $350. The same $5 bar of steel, if you made it into delicate springs for watches would be valued at a quarter of a million dollars. But what beating and testing it must go through to get that value.

Number two, if your Promised Land is difficult, if where you're at tonight is difficult in following Christ, remain right where God has put you until God tells you to move. Stay there. I know you're tempted. You're tempted to get relief. You're thinking, "I'm going to leave this marriage. I've got to leave this job. I've got to leave this town." You stay put until God shows you otherwise through his word or through some godly counsel. In Isaiah 28 verse 16 there is this promises, "I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation and whoever believes in him will not act hastily." Isn't that a great verse? Whoever believes in him will not act hastily, won't react, or as the New Living puts it, "Whoever believes in him will never run away again."

Number three, if the Promised Land you're in tonight is difficult, I want you to ask yourself a question, I don't want you to ask how can I get out of this? I want to ask yourself, what can I get out of this? What can I learn from it? What can I learn from it?

Hudson Taylor, the great missionary noted, "God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him." Isn't that great? So the answer is: lean on him. "Oh, but it's too hard." Lean harder. And you stay put and cast that upon the Lord and go, "Okay now, Lord, I have a problem and I'm making it your problem. It's yours, we have a problem here Lord, I need provision. And I'm trusting you, it's your move." You put God between you and your problem.

Well, this chain saw, I was looking at the box a little closer, there's some great words on it. It says, righit up here, "Engine performance system." It says, "Great for firewood, great for tough jobs." It says on it, "Powerful, safer operation." There's a promise on this box that even in difficult circumstances, this unit will perform well.

And so, I want to say that God's promises mixed with your faith in those promises will make you powerful and safe even in the midst of difficult situations. God has made promises to you, folks. Don't underestimate them. Lean harder.

Heavenly Father, we pray that our lives would have power, safe operation and performance; even in difficult jobs, that we mix your promises with faith. Lord I pray that we would live in such a way that we would be a blessing to people, not a menace to people, they would see our lives and be drawn to you because of them. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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7/20/2003
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The Past: Guidepost Or Hitching Post?
Genesis 11:27-32
Skip Heitzig
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Today we embark on a new journey, studying the life of Abraham. I'm calling it, Making Your Mark. Abraham made his mark deep within the fabric of the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. More than that, Scripture exonerates him as being an example of faith. But what about his past? How did he begin his journey of faith? You may find striking parallels to your own spiritual experience as we see five experiences that shaped Abraham's earlier life. Let’s learn the first steps in how to leave our mark of influence in our own culture.
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7/27/2003
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Buckle Up! You're Going on an Adventure!
Genesis 12:1-9
Skip Heitzig
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Have you ever thought of life as an adventure? Most people don't. Daily life becomes the daily grind as many just survive: eking out a tasteless and meaningless existence hoping something better comes along in the future. There's one factor that can make all the difference—it's called God's will! To live life according to God's promises and commands, even though difficult at times, will be the most exciting way to make your journey through this life. In this second study on Abraham, Making Your Mark, let's see three principles that brought this sense of adventure.
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8/8/2003
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Two Men Under One Microscope
Genesis 13
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8/17/2003
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The Glimmer of the Godly in a Cauldron of Crisis
Genesis 14
Skip Heitzig
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8/24/2003
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The Journey from Fear to Faith
Genesis 15:1-6
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8/31/2003
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A Dark Night; A Bright Future
Genesis 15:7-21
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9/14/2003
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Taking the Long Way Around
Genesis 16
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9/21/2003
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A New Start for an Old Soldier
Genesis 17:1-8
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9/28/2003
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When God Makes His Mark
Genesis 17:9-27
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10/5/2003
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How To Be God's Friend
Genesis 18:1-15
Skip Heitzig
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10/12/2003
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Have I Got Plans For You!
Genesis 18:16-33
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10/19/2003
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Shock and Awe!
Genesis 19:23-29
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10/26/2003
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Re-run of a Star's Worst Episode
Genesis 20
Skip Heitzig
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The basic idea: Even after years have gone by, years of growth for Abraham, he relapsed into old behavior patterns. The sin principle is always a problem, even for the Christian. If the "old ways" are not sufficiently dealt with, they will grow and threaten to undo us. We look at four scenes in this rerun episode of Abraham, revealing how seriously this battle between the flesh and the spirit really is.
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11/9/2003
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The Gift of Laughter for Senior Citizens
Genesis 21:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Abraham is old here (age 100—a centenarian). His wife Sarah delivers the child promised by God (Isaac) and the result is joy and laughter. We learn five things about the nature of God in this passage.
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11/16/2003
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Faith... For Better or For Worse
Genesis 22:1-19
Skip Heitzig
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Skip speaks about the greatest test of Abraham's life and how he responded to it.
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11/23/2003
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Funeral for a Princess
Genesis 23
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This message highlights the death of Sarah and her husband's response.
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12/7/2003
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Passing the Baton
Genesis 24
Skip Heitzig
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Abraham was the recipient of God's promises and blessing for many years. Now it's time to make sure that his son Isaac will also make his mark and inherit the promises of God. Abraham wants to pass the mantle of patriarch and the baton of blessing to his son by ensuring he marries the right person and continues the family line so that "all the nations of the earth will be blessed," as God had promised. What are the key principles for such an endeavor?
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12/14/2003
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A Senior Saint's Sunset Years
Genesis 25:1-11
Skip Heitzig
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Skip looks at Abraham's obituary as given in Genesis 25. After following his life from his call to leave his homeland, we now come to his last breath and subsequent burial. Encouragement and instruction for facing our own mortality will be considered.
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There are 18 additional messages in this series.
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