Dead-Ends: Lessons on What To Do From Abraham’s Life

14 Feb 2014 by Jason Law CM –

 

In an ever more competitive and demanding world, it is so easy to fall into seemingly hopeless situations. It may be a financial situation, or a job related situation, such as one where a business project affecting multiple lives and jobs seem to be going downhill with no way out in sight. Sometimes it may be a health situation especially with all of today’s viruses and diseases. At other times, it may be due to sociological factors. These are what we call dead-ends, where the road seems to lead nowhere but to a cliff wall, and last Sunday, Rev Abraham Visca shared a relevant message in Glad Tidings PJ concerning this aspect in our life. 

 

Rev Abraham Visca
Rev Abraham Visca

 

Rev Abraham drew on the life of his namesake and of our forefather in faith, Abraham, as an example of how to deal with faith-affecting situations. The life of the patriarch Abraham followed a pattern. At the age of 75, Abraham was given instructions to leave his land in a dream by God, so that he would be made a father of a great nation (Genesis 12:1-8). Abraham made the decision to obey (Genesis 12:4), but there was a delay and in Genesis 16:1, we find that Abraham and Sarah resorted to their own means which affected the lives of others. In Genesis 17, God appeared to Abraham again, establishing the covenant with him and calling him a father of many nations. Abraham, who was already 99 year old at this time, had difficulty taking this by faith in the beginning (Genesis 17:17) but God was gracious and kept His promise. Abraham’s son, Isaac, was born (Genesis 21:21).

 

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And then, in Genesis 22, the test, and Abraham’s dead-end situation came. After all the experiences that had gone on before, Abraham was now asked to sacrifice the Child of Promise. What would we do today if we were put in the same situation as Abraham? The thing to learn is how Abraham responded to his dead-end situation, and in Genesis 22:12-14, we find that God delivered him out of it. Dead-ends do not always lead to an impasse or to destruction, and often, we discover that they may actually be instances of God preparing us for a great deliverance/break-through in our lives.   

 

Genesis 22:12-14

New International Version (NIV)

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

 

Many Christians experience the same pattern as Abraham’s in their lives of faith. Our Christian walk and ministry started off with a dream from God and a decision to obey. Often, there is a delay before we see the fruits of our labors. And just as these start to show, the hard tempests of life hits, and many find themselves in dead-end situations. This may happen late in life but it may also happen early in ministry. What are we to do when we reach our dead-ends? There are 4 main lessons we can learn from the life of Abraham.

 

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Firstly, Abraham remembered what God can do. In Romans 4:17-18, the apostle Paul reminds us of Abraham’s faith in the God who gave life to the dead and calls into beings things that were not. Right at the beginning, when there was nothing, God simply spoke, and a new world and universe came into being. Abraham also had the faith that when God has made a promise, He never denies or lies, as humans sometimes do.

Rev Visca shared that the world sometimes thinks that positive thinking can change every situation, but the fact is that while positive thinking works great in situations we can control, it is worthless in those that are outside of our control. By ourselves, we have no power. All power comes through our Sovereign God; without Him we are nothing (John 15:5).

 

Romans 4:17-18

New International Version (NIV)

17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

 

photo-greatisthyfaithfulness

 

Secondly, Abraham also relied on what God has said. Romans 4:17-18 also tells us that Abraham believed against all hope according to what has been said to him. In Hebrews 11:17-19, we find that Abraham’s faith was on a level even higher than this. In verses 17-18, ‘he who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ In verse 19, we learn that Abraham had the faith that the God who could raise the dead would do the same for Isaac, and ‘in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from the dead’ (v 19)

When Abraham was tested, he held on to the promises of God. We need to do the same by turning to the Word of God and become familiar with it, relying on it, keeping it, and holding it close to our hearts. The Word of God and His promises in it is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is powerful.

 

Hebrews 11:17-19

New International Version (NIV)

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

 

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Thirdly, Abraham faced the facts with faith. This is very different from many of the worldly philosophies. He did not deny the circumstances, telling himself that these were illusions. He looked beyond them. The circumstances were still there, and Abraham knew that early the next morning, he would still have to go and make the sacrifice. Even earlier when God gave him the promise of Isaac, Abraham knew the facts of his aging body, yet he did not waver through his unbelief and it was credited to him as righteousness (Romans 4:19-20, 22). 2 Corinthians 16-18 teaches us not to lose heart and to look beyond our temporary troubles. What is seen is temporary but the things of God is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18)    

 

Romans 4:19-20

New International Version (NIV)

19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 

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Fourthly, we need to come to God with expectation.  In the account of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, there are two significant verses exhibiting Abraham’s faith that God will deliver him out of his dead-end. In verse 5, Abraham instructed the servants to wait ‘and then we will come back to you’. In verse 7-8, when Isaac asked Abraham about the sacrifice, Abraham replied that God will provide. Very often, we find ourselves struggling with situations because we do not ask or expect for God’s help. Such situations often teach us not to rely on ourselves but instead to set our hope in an Almighty and Faithful God. In such situations, we need to humble ourselves before God and admit that we do not always have the answers.  

 

2 Corinthians 1:9-10

New International Version (NIV)

Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,

 

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Coming to God in our dead-end situations will help us to look at them with a different lens. Dead-ends become opportunities for growth; in our faith, character, and the things that matter to us like our relationship with God and people. They become reminders that we need to surrender to God, and gives us the right perspective and viewpoint on life and its priority. Everything that is produced in the physical realm is temporary. It passes away like the wild flower (James 1:10-11) but the things of God (His Goodness, His Faithfulness..) and His purpose through the Church endures forever (Psalm 100:5; Ephesians 3:10-11).

There are times when God may not choose to change the circumstances in our lives but His peace will come into our hearts and being. One of the promises of God is that when we turn to Him, He will give us rest. He will give us the strength to change our characters so that we can rise above our circumstances. Rev Visca’s encouragement to us is that ultimate deliverance lies with God and that He can turn hopeless ends into endless hope. We need to let God take over and develop an eternal perspective instead of struggling to look for answers from this world.

 

Matthew 11:28

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”.

 

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References for pictures

http://www.catholicradiodramas.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/IsaacTIEPOLO1729.jpg

http://cyberbrethren.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Caravaggio_Sacrifice_of_Isaac_I.jpg

http://pearlsofprofundity.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/omnipotence-1.jpg

http://gaither.com/sites/gaither.com/files/photo-greatisthyfaithfulness.jpg

http://www.kandle.ie/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/prayer_bn.jpg

http://www.wallpaperup.com/uploads/wallpapers/2013/03/01/46701/955252022630e3a90f71901785795a72.jpg

http://www.2equal1.com/clientuploads/blendedfamilysil.jpg

 

 

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