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 Issac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up from the dead…
— Hebrews 11:17-19
I know from firsthand experience that when God asks you to sacrifice something precious, it can be very difficult to come into compliance with what He is asking you to do. The flesh rebels every step of the way, and the mind tries to argue, as if it knows better than the Lord. Therefore, when your will collides with God’s divine plan for your life, you must make a conscious decision to exercise obedience and follow His leading, no matter what.
There are critical moments when you must make the choice to do what God asks, whether or not you understand it. When you fully abandon your natural inclinations and defer to God’s will, you will be elevated to brand-new levels of success and victory that you have never before attained.
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Let me share an example of this kind of deference and obedience from my own life. When God first asked my family to move to the USSR, I knew He had something truly wonderful in store for us. However, my flesh didn’t relish the idea one bit. Night after night, I lay in my bed and listened as my mind told me that this move was the stupidest notion I’d ever considered in my life and that if I really carried through with this absurd idea, I would lose everything. I was having an ongoing inner dialogue with God about the matter. I remember asking Him, Are You REALLY asking me to sacrifice everything that we’ve worked so hard to achieve?
At the time God called us to move overseas, our ministry in the United States was finally taking off after years of struggle and hard work. However, just as we were experiencing the first trappings of success, God asked us to lay aside our dream because He wanted to do something new through us. This was a pivotal moment in our lives! We didn’t understand the full scope of His divine plan, so we had to choose to defer to His voice and trust that He was leading us on the right path.
Have you experienced a similar moment in your own life? If not, I guarantee you that a time will come when you will be called on to step out and follow God’s leading, even though you don’t fully understand His design. However, it is important to remember that when God asks you to sacrifice something precious in your life, He always has your best interest at heart, and He is trying to use that experience to reveal something to you about your life so that you can go forth and do the will of God with confidence.
A clear example of this biblical truth is clearly seen in the Old Testament story of Abraham. After waiting approximately 25 years for God’s promise of a covenant child to come true, Abraham and Sarah finally became the proud parents of their son Isaac. When Isaac was born Abraham was 100 years old, and Sarah was 90 years old.
Everyone knew this baby was a miracle! How many 90-year-old women do you know that have given birth to a baby? It was so fantastic that even Sarah said, “God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? For I have born him a son in his old age” (Genesis 21:7).
Try to imagine for a moment the sight of a 90-year-old woman breastfeeding a baby. You can understand why Sarah said everyone who saw it would laugh — it was absurd to the natural mind! Yet everyone who saw this mother and child together was filled with joy because it was such a demonstration of God’s faithfulness to keep His Word. In fact, this blessing brought so many people joy that Abraham and Sarah named the baby Isaac, meaning laughter.
Abraham had personally given up a lot to accommodate the promise of God in his life. He knew that Isaac was the seed through whom God was going to bless the nations of the earth, as God had promised in Genesis 12:2,3 and Genesis 15:4,5. All of Abraham’s hopes and dreams rested in Isaac.
However, after Abraham had spent years watching his son grow into a God-fearing young man, the Bible says that God came to him and commanded him to offer up Isaac as a burnt sacrifice! Genesis 22:1 and 2 records: “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”
In Hebrews 11:17, the writer of Hebrews offers another account of these events, saying, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…” This verse tells us that God “tried” Abraham that day on Mount Moriah when He commanded him to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering on the altar.
This word “tried” is from the Greek word peiradzo, which describes an intense examination that is done to prove the fitness of an object. For example, peiradzo was used to describe the fiery process of testing and removing impurities from metal in the ancient world. These tests ensured that the metal would be strong and durable, and that any object crafted from metal would hold up under pressure. In addition, peiradzo also described the process of testing coins to determine if they were authentic or counterfeit. In early New Testament times, counterfeits often looked so similar to the genuine article that only a test would reveal whether a coin was real or fake. Therefore, people regularly tested their money to see if it had worth.
The word peiradzo most often described the process of testing an object to reveal its true quality, and this is precisely how the word is used in Hebrews 11:17, where the verse says Abraham was “tried” by the Lord. The fact is, the Lord already knew that Abraham’s faith was sound and real. But when Abraham drew his knife to slay his son, Abraham himself learned something important about his own faith and level of consecration. He discovered that he was willing to do whatever the Lord asked him to do. There was nothing counterfeit or lacking about Abraham’s obedience to God; his commitment was real and authentic.
You see, God never tests you to learn new information about you. He doesn’t need to “test” to find out something new because He already knows it all. Rather, He is trying to show you something about you — to make you more self-assured and confident as you go forward to do His will. Every test you are going through is being done for your own self-discovery — lessons learned if you go through those tests correctly to give you confidence as you proceed to do the will of God for your life.
When God called my family to relocate to the former USSR back in 1991, my willingness to say yes to God revealed something to me about myself that I needed to see and know. It showed me that my commitment to God was real. This experience was a peiradzo — a test designed to reveal the imperfect areas of my life that required attention and to prove to me that I was the type of person God could depend on. He already knew this about me, but I personally needed to know it deep down in my spirit.
I am so glad my family said, “Yes!” when God beckoned us to leave the United States and move to the former Soviet Union. Even though it initially felt like we were sacrificing everything to do it, the truth is, we didn’t lose anything. What God has given us in our new home overseas is far greater than any home, possession, or dream that we thought we were relinquishing. From the very outset, God had a wonderful plan for the Renner family.
When God asks us to lay something on the altar of sacrifice, we can know there is something bigger and better He wants to put into our hands. But as long as we’re clutching what we have right now, we’re not free to receive the great things He wants to give us next.
Realize that whatever you’re doing today may simply be the training ground for your future. Don’t allow yourself to get so cemented in what you’re doing that you can’t move forward to the next step God has in store for you. And if it ever seems like God is asking you to make a huge sacrifice, just remember: This is just His way of freeing you so He can give you something better and greater and make you more productive for the Kingdom of God. You can trust Him! And as you keep your heart free and your emotions untangled, you’ll be able to move forward whenever His Spirit beckons you to take the next step in His good plan for your life!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I am thankful to know that You already know everything about me and that You don’t need to put me through a test to find out whether or not I’m genuine. Now I understand that You are trying to show me something about myself. Help me to embrace the tests that help me to learn what kind of person I am. Holy Spirit, I ask You to help me cooperate with Your working in my life so that I will become the type of person You can use to expand and build Your Kingdom. That is my heartfelt prayer.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am alert to recognize when God is testing me to show me something I need to know about myself. He already knows all the answers about me and nothing takes Him by surprise. But I need to know about me. I need to know that I am willing to obey and do whatever He asks me to do. I need to know that I am authentic and genuine in my faith. What He is asking me to do is for me to gain revelation about myself. It is information I need to know so that I can proceed with confidence and boldness as I push forward toward God’s plan for my life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- After reading today’s Sparkling Gem, do you see that God tests you to reveal something to you about yourself? God already knows all the answers and doesn’t need a test to find out something about you. So what do the tests you’ve undergone reveal about you that you need to know?
- How do you think Abraham felt after he passed his test on Mount Moriah? What did he discover about himself and his own willingness to obey God?
- What test are you going through right now? Do you now understand that God already knows the answers and He’s trying to show something to you about you? What is He trying to show you?