The Person God Uses
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
November 21, 2004

 

Main Passage: Genesis 22:1-14 (NLT)

 

There’s a story that takes place back in the days before the unification of East and West Germany. It involves a young man who was trying to defect, and was trying to escape from East Berlin to West Berlin. But like so many who had tried before him, he was gunned down by communist guards while trying to scale the walls. Onlookers rushed over to him as he lay in a pool of his own blood. And his final words to them before dying? “I am dying for the destruction of communism… what are you living for?”

Good question. What are you living for? What am I living for? Sometimes we can get so full of apathy and indifference that our lives lose their meaning. Josh McDowell says,

“Today, it is difficult to get people to cross the street for what they believe let alone die for it.”
~ Josh McDowell

Yet when someone is completely sold out to what they believe in, even to the point that they would be willing to die for it if necessary, there are virtually no limits to what can be accomplished through them. Never underestimate what God can do with one whose life wholly belongs to him.

Earlier in the service, we read about Abraham and Isaac. Abraham was someone whose life wholly belonged to God. It was an incredible story about how Abraham was so committed to God that he was willing to give up his own son because God asked him to.

What was God thinking? Did he really want Isaac to be killed? To be sacrificed to Him? No. He would find no pleasure in the murder of a young boy. What he wanted was to show that Abraham was sold out to Him and would obey Him even to this extreme.

Abraham was a man that God could use. In fact, from Abraham God intended to bless the whole human race. This morning I want to look at this account in the life of Abraham and pull out three qualities that are present in the person God can use.

 

The person God uses must be:

 

1. Available to the Plan of God.

It’s interesting how Abraham reacted to the instructions God gave Him. He didn’t offer a plan “B”, he didn’t debate it, he didn’t try to negotiate or cut a deal, he didn’t even point out the obvious contradiction between what God was telling him to do and the value God placed on life. He simply obeyed. He trusted God completely. His attitude was, “You’re my master. I want Your will – nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.”

There’s a quote I heard years ago and I’m not even sure anymore where I first heard it or who said it. It’s almost become a cliché. So if you’ve heard it before, and it has grown stale, then listen to it afresh today.

“God is more concerned with our availability than our ability.”

God’s got quite a track record of taking average people, or even below average people, and doing supernatural things through them… just because they were available.

Moses was just a stuttering cowardly man when God called him to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.

Esther was just a young Jewish girl when God arranged for her to marry the king of Persia, and subsequently save all her people from extermination.

David was just a little kid, a shepherd boy, when he fought the giant Goliath and won!

Peter was just a lowly fisherman when Jesus called him to follow him, and he became the primary leader in the early church.

It’s interesting to me that Peter, and all the other disciples as well, had to leave their livelihood and follow Jesus. They were so available to the plan of God that they were willing to leave their source of income. Jesus Himself said;

Luke 9:58 (NLT)
“Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head.”

Vance Havner, in his book On This Rock I Stand, wrote:

“God is on the lookout today for a man who will be quiet enough to get a message from God, brave enough to preach it, and honest enough to live it.”
~ Vance Havner, On This Rock I Stand

You see, it’s not about getting God to bless you and sign on to your agenda. God doesn’t owe you anything. Being a Christian and following Jesus is about us signing on to His agenda and trusting His leadership in our lives. As Abraham Lincoln said…

“My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

So the idea isn’t to say, “This is my plan. How does God fit?” It’s to say, “This is God’s plan. How do I fit?” Are you available to the plan of God for your life?

 

2. Abandoned to the Purpose of God.

Years before Isaac was even born, God talked to Abraham and made him a promise. He promised Abraham that he and his wife, Sarah, would be the beginning of a nation. They would leave a legacy. In fact, this is what God said in Genesis 12:2;

Genesis 12:2 (NLT)
“I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others.”

And in Genesis 15:5;

Genesis 15:5 (NLT)
“Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that—too many to count!”

And in Genesis 17;

Genesis 17:4, 6 (NLT)
“This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of not just one nation, but a multitude of nations! … I will give you millions of descendants who will represent many nations. Kings will be among them!”

So God promised and reinforced the promise that He was going to give Abraham many, many descendants… too many to count, spreading throughout the earth. With that in mind, take another look at Genesis 22:2…

Genesis 22:2 (NLT)
“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will point out to you.”

Do you see the problem? Isaac was Abraham’s only son. And he was being asked to offer Isaac as a sacrifice! How would these other promises of God, that Abraham would be the father of many nations, ever happen? Well, that was God’s problem, not his. Abraham was abandoned to the purpose of God and trusted God completely.

Let me show you a couple of interesting statements that Abraham makes in this passage. The first is when he and Isaac leave the servants behind. Abraham tells them,

Genesis 22:5 (NLT)
“Stay here with the donkey… The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”

We? WE will worship and WE will come back? The other verse is found when Isaac asked about where the lamb for the sacrifice was. Abraham told him,

Genesis 22:8 (NLT)
“God will provide a lamb, my son.”

Abraham was doing exactly what God instructed him to do, but he never lost faith that God would indeed keep His promise and somehow Isaac would be spared. In fact, Abraham was sure that even if he did kill his son, God had the power to raise the dead. Way over near the end of the New Testament, there’s a great commentary on what Abraham was thinking.

Hebrews 11:17-19 (NLT)
It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, though God had promised him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham assumed that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.

George Orwell in his classic book 1984 warned that this world would be filled with people who care for nothing, live for nothing, and believe in nothing. Well, Abraham deeply believed in something, and he demonstrated that belief by his willingness to sacrifice his only son.

I read a story this week about how years ago two cars of a passenger train traveling from Kingston, North Carolina, plunged into an open drawbridge on the Elizabeth River. Eighteen of the passengers were drowned or killed. The signal man insisted that he had displayed his red flag in time for the engineer to stop the train, and other employees testified to that fact in court.

The engineer, however, testified that it was a white flag that had been shown, indicating that the way clear. Finally, one of the attorneys suggested that the flag be brought into evidence, and the flag was brought to the court. The flag was indeed a red flag, but through the years it had faded enough that it could have easily been mistaken for a white flag.

What does your flag communicate to the world around you? Does your life communicate a clear message or has your message faded? Does the way you live your life match the words you speak and the things you say you believe? Does your walk match your talk? We need to be people who are completely abandoned to the purposes of God, trusting and following Him regardless of what He asks us to do.

 

3. Assured of the Provision of God.

Abraham told Isaac;

Genesis 22:8 (NLT)
“God will provide a lamb, my son.”

And that’s just what He did. So when they left, Abraham named the place Yahweh Yir’eh. You may be more familiar with the term as Jehovah-Jireh. Either way, it means: The Lord Will Provide.

According to Webster’s, the word “provide” has various levels of meaning, including…

Provide – to make ready beforehand; to supply

Now, I knew that to provide meant that you supply. I mean, it’s an everyday word. We know what the word means. But what kind of caught my attention was the word “beforehand”. You see, God never leaves us in a lurch. He always supplies what we need before we need it. It might not be very much before, but it’s never too late. He’s got perfect timing – not a minute too soon, not a moment too late.

Listen to some of these verses that talk about the provision of God:

Deuteronomy 2:7 (NLT)
…the LORD your God has been with you and provided for your every need so that you lacked nothing.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT)
And God will generously provide all you need.

2 Thessalonians 1:7 (NLT)
And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven.

Matthew 6:32-33 (NLT)
“Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.”

Give me some feedback here. What are some things that God provides for His people?

PARTICIPATION

I’ve compiled a short list of some of the things that God provides. In probably 45-60 seconds, these are the things I listed:


Protection
Security
Blessing
Finances
Reconciliation
Love
Purpose
Meaning
Hope
Joy
Protection
Rest
Material Possessions
Future
Healing
Forgiveness
Completion
Strength
Peace
Life
Salvation


Are you assured of the provision of God? You may as well be, because He promised he would supply your needs. Maybe you won’t get all your wants, but He will meet all your needs. Trust Him on that. I can tell you that He’s never let me down, and He’ll never let you down, either.

 

Isn’t it interesting that Abraham, an average man with average problems, became a man that God used to begin a whole nation that we refer to as God’s chosen people? But Abraham did not display anything that’s impossible for us today. It wasn’t an issue of intelligence or aptitude; talent or ability; image or personality. He simply trusted God and obeyed. He was available to the plan of God, abandoned to the purpose of God, and assured of the provision of God.

My challenge for you this morning is simple: If you’ve been holding back in trusting God and living for Him, then I challenge you to give Him all of you this morning. Would you close your eyes for a minute? If you’re here and it’s your decision this morning to trust in Him completely and give Him all of yourself, then slip up your hand. No one else is looking and I’m not going to mention you by name. But just signal your commitment and reinforce it for yourself by raising your hand.

 

(Thanks to Tim Elmore, who provided much of the inspiration and material for this message in his booklet “Being Used By God”, © 1990 Wesley Press)

 

 

 

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