God’s Provision and the Test of Faith

September 1, 2019

Bible Text: Genesis 22:1-19 |


God’s Provision and the Test of Faith | Genesis 22
Brian Hedges | September 1, 2019

[We apologize that the first two or three minutes of this message were not recorded.]

So, you get to the end of a video game and everything’s moving faster, right? It’s more difficult, it’s more challenging. That’s true in life, it’s true in games, and it’s also true in the spiritual life. It’s true in the spiritual life. It’s true in the life of faith that we begin with fairly easy steps of learning to trust God, learning to obey the Lord, and then the further we go in life the more difficult those tests become.

This morning, as we conclude our series on the life of Abraham, we’re looking at the most difficult, advanced test that Abraham ever faced in his life. We’ve been surveying his life for several months now, and we’ve seen Abraham face many challenges, many difficulties, and how, as Paul says, he didn’t waver in faith, he grew strong in faith, giving glory to God. Even though there’s this three steps forward, one step back kind of movement in the life of Abraham, the dominant note of his life is one of faithfulness and of trust and of believing in God.

Then we get to Genesis 22, where we see the most severe test of all. As we work through the passage this morning, I want us to note—this is very simple—I want us to see the test, the surrender, and the provision.

Those are the three things that happen in this passage. As we work through it, I want us to think in terms of application, because you and I will also face tests, tests of faith, and you and I are also called to surrender our everything to the Lord, and we are called to trust in the Lord’s provision. So let’s look at the test.

I. The Test

You see it, first of all, in verses 1 and 2. Hear the word of the Lord. “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’”

That’s the test, and it’s shocking. If you don’t know the story—most of us probably do, but if you’re reading the story of Abraham for the first time, it’s shocking. It’s totally unexpected. I mean, here is Isaac, he’s the son of promise, the son that Abraham and Sarah had been waiting for for 25 years, and finally God was true to his word, this child is born in Genesis 21. Then it’s some years later, it’s “after these things,” it’s some years later, down the road. Isaac is now at least a teenager, maybe a young man, and now the Lord, in this shocking, unexplained, unexpected kind of way comes and says, “Give him back to me. Offer your son.” It’s shocking because of how it’s worded and what it is that God demands.

Spurgeon in one of his sermons said that every syllable of verse 2 is a knife-cut, like a sword-thrust, a wound to the heart. Just listen to how it’s worded, and you can see how this would just pierce the soul of Abraham. God says, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love.” This is the child of promise, this is Isaac, his name meant laughter, this is the child who had brought so much joy, this is the one and only son that had been promised by God to Abraham, and every word of this command pierces Abraham’s heart, as God tells him to take him to this mountain that he will show him in the land of Moriah. That, incidentally, is a mountain that will be very near the city of Jerusalem; we learn that from 2 Chronicles 3. It may very well have been the mountain on which Jesus would later be crucified.

You just have to think about how this was hitting Abraham. This was difficult for Abraham in all different kinds of ways. It was unexplained, God gives no explanation for the test. In fact, Abraham doesn’t even know it’s a test. We know it’s a test because the narrator tells us. Abraham knew after the fact that it was a test, but Abraham just knows that the same God who has been speaking to him for all of these years, the same God who had called him to leave his father, to leave his homeland, to leave Ur of the Chaldeans and go to this land that God would show him; the same God who has made promises to him, the same God who’s given him a covenant; this same God is now telling him to offer his own son as a sacrifice, a sacrificial offer—to slay his son!

This is counter to everything that Abraham knows about God. It is counter, first of all, to God’s explicit command in Genesis 9:6, where human beings are forbidden to take the lives of others, forbidden to murder, wholesale murder or slaughter. So this seems to be contradictory to that. It is also in contradiction to the promise of God, because God had made this promise that in Isaac, “He will be your son, and in Isaac your son you will be blessed and all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” This seems to be counter to that. It is, of course, counter to any kind of natural affection and human sympathy and humanity. I mean, can you imagine a father taking the life of his own child?

And yet, this is what God asks. Think about this. This is the most difficult thing that God possibly could have asked. He’s not telling Abraham to give up sin. That’s expected, and we’re all told to kill our sins; but that’s not what’s going on here. Abraham is not told to give up sin; Isaac’s not a sin, Isaac is a good thing that God has provided.

He’s not even being told to give up Ishmael, he’s being told to give up Isaac. As Derek Kidner, the commentator, says, “Abraham’s trust was to be weighed in the balance against common sense, human affection, and lifelong ambition; in fact, against everything earthly.” It’s a test, and it is a test of faith.

Now, any of you ever see the movie that was made, I think it was back in the ’60s or ’70s? There was a movie made called “The Bible.” It had George C. Scott playing Abraham, and there’s a scene in that movie when Abraham and Isaac are going up the mountain, and it’s extra-biblical, this is not in the text, but I think it’s a good illustration. There’s a scene where Isaac asks his father, Abraham (George C. Scott), “Is there anything God cannot ask of thee?” And Abraham says, “No. There’s nothing.”

That’s what this passage teaches us. It teaches us that God, in his lordship over our lives, has the right to ask anything. He has the right to ask anything! Now, we know, and we can be absolutely certain and assured from the whole testimony of Scripture, that God never will again ask someone to do what he asked Abraham to do. We know that child sacrifice is abhorrent to the Lord. We know that from Deuteronomy, Leviticus, we know that from the end of the story, we know this from the prophets. God will never ask that of anyone again. His word is clear.

And yet, God does ask us to surrender in our hearts everything to him. He asks us to give him our all, to entrust him with everything that is precious to us: our families, our relationships, our dreams, our ambitions, our goals. He asks us to entrust him with our very selves.

That’s the test, and sometimes that test comes into our lives in different kinds of ways. It may come through an unexpected loss, it may come through a diagnosis of cancer, leukemia, something else. It may come through some change of circumstances that we didn’t expect, a change in location; or it may come as God in his providence and by his Spirit moves us to some new level of obedience and service to him that will involve some kind of sacrifice on our parts. In those moments, God is testing us. He is testing our faith and he is asking us, will we trust him? That’s the test that Abraham faces.

II. The Surrender

Then, in verses 3-8, we see the surrender. We see Abraham’s response. I want you to see three things about his surrender, and I think it has a lot to each us about surrender in our own hearts and lives.

(1) First of all, the heart of surrender. I want you to just notice how Abraham responds to God, first of all, just in verse 1, but the same words are used three times in this passage. The Lord comes to Abraham and says, “Abraham!” Notice what Abraham says: “Here I am.”

He says that before God gives him a command, but those words express the heart of surrender. “Here I am.” Abraham says the same thing to Isaac in verse 7, when Isaac addresses him, and then he says the same thing to the angel of the Lord in verse 11. “Here I am.” That’s the heart that you and I must have. When God comes to us, when God is asking us to surrender, we are essentially saying, “Lord, I’m here. What would you ask of me?”

Do you remember how the apostle Paul, Saul of Tarsus, on the road to Damascus, when Jesus comes to him, the risen Christ meets him on the road, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me,” do you remember what Saul says? He says, “Who are you, Lord?” and then the Lord Jesus reveals himself to Paul, and then what does Paul say? “What will you have me to do?” That’s the heart of surrender.

This is a prayer that has been known as John Wesley’s prayer. I think John Wesley probably got it from a Puritan. I’ve read this to you before, but it fits so well here, I want to read this again. This is the prayer of surrender, this represents the heart we should have. Listen to what Wesley prayed.

“I am no longer mine, but yours;
Put me to what you will,
Rank me with whom you will,
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for your
Or laid aside for you,
Exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things or let me have nothing.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
To your pleasure and disposal.

That’s a heart of surrender.

(2) Then we see the demonstration of surrender in verses in 3 and 4. It’s really interesting here, because when you get into the text, it’s like the action just kind of slows down.

I remember reading a number of years ago, when I was beginning to do some writing, and I was reading books on writing, and I think this was a book by Roy Peter Clark, a great instructor of writers, who leads the Poynter Institute of Journalism—I think it was Roy Peter Clark who said that when you’re wanting to really draw people into the action of the story, you slow things down, and you show every specific step. You really slow things down, and it almost works in narrative and in literary form, sort of like a slow-motion camera, where it really draws you into the action and you’re seeing every single move.

That’s exactly what happens here. This is masterfully crafted storytelling, and you see it in verses 3 and 4. Just notice how you see every step, every plodding step that Abraham takes in this journey.

It says, “So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddle his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.”

You can almost just feel the mounting tension in Abraham’s life in that three-day journey, as he takes step after step in his journey to the mountain the Lord would show him.

Here’s the really interesting thing. The focus of the narrative is not on the emotion, it’s on the action. It’s not on the emotions that Abraham is feeling, right? That’s not really what you see. In fact, I thought this comment was pretty perceptive, from Dale Ralph Davis. He says, “Verses 3-6 are disappointing in that they simply record Abraham’s obedience almost in matter-of-fact form.” He said, “Our anguish-loving culture thrives on psychological strip tease, and all we get is bare obedience.”

I think there’s a lesson for us in that, because so much of life is doing the thing that God requires, it’s taking the next step of obedience, it’s putting one step in front of the other, it’s being faithful to your promises and to your vows and to your responsibilities, and doing that no matter how you feel when you get up in the morning. No matter how you feel, you obey. That’s what Abraham does.

That’s not to say that there’s no importance to our emotions and to our hearts, but we are so introspective, we are so myopic, we are so centered on our own inner experience, that we need this balancing of Scripture. The proof of our surrender, the demonstration of our surrender, is not in what we feel in any given moment, it’s in our commitment to do what God commands.

That’s what Abraham does. He gets up, he prepares for the journey, he goes on the journey, he prepares the wood, he gets ready for the sacrifice, one step in front of another, doing the next thing, and doing that in obedience to the Lord.

This is the great demonstration of the reality of faith. Remember how James uses this very story, the story of Abraham, in James 2, to show us what genuine faith looks like. James 2:21-24: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works and faith was completed by his works, and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works, and not by faith alone.”

Of course, we know that James is talking here about the vindication of genuine faith. He’s not saying that ultimately before the bar of God that we are saved by our morality or saved by our law-keeping; he’s not saying that. He is instead showing us that genuine faith is transforming, genuine faith demonstrates itself in action, genuine faith proves itself in its obedience. That’s what we’ll see in the life of Abraham.

(3) Then that gets us right to the source of the surrender, the source of the obedience. What is the source?

The text doesn’t directly tell us, but it give us hints. I want you to see that there are two hints, and these hints are in the dialogue. Again, this is masterful storytelling, as the narrator here is revealing to us the heart of Abraham through Abraham’s actions and through Abraham’s words. There are two bits of dialogue, first of all in verse 5 , and then again in verses 6-8.

First of all, with the servants, the young men. Look at verse 5. It says, “Then Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.’” Now, this is a little more clear in the NIV, where you kind of get the personal pronouns emphasized. Let me read it in the NIV. “He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey, while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.’”

You hear what he’s saying? Now, he’s going with every intention of obeying God and slaughtering his son, and yet he says, “We will go and worship and we will come back to you.”

What’s that telling us about Abraham? It’s telling us that he is expecting something. It’s showing us something about his heart of faith, showing us something about his trust in God.

Then you see it again in the dialogue between Abraham and Isaac. Look at verses 6-8. “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire [a torch] and the knife. So they went both of them together.” Just get the picture. Here’s the son carrying the very wood that he is to be sacrificed on. Does it remind you of another Son who would carry the wood on which he would be sacrificed, in the gospel of John?

Verse 6 tells us, “So they went both of them together.” Then verse 7, “And Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ He said, ‘Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’” Notice what Abraham says. “Abraham said, ‘God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.’ So they went both of them together.”

What is the source of Abraham’s surrender? What’s going on here? The source of Abraham’s surrender is his faith. You see it in these words, his expectation that God will provide. Now, I don’t think Abraham knew how God would provide, I don’t think he knew what God would do. He didn’t know the how and the what, but he knew the who. He knew the God that he had been serving for all of these years, and he knew that God had been faithful to his promises again and again and again, and he knew that the very God who had brought life out of death by causing this child, Isaac, to be born out of the deadness of Sarah’s womb to these two senior citizens—he knew that the same God who brought about that miraculous birth could bring about a resurrection from the dead.

In fact, that’s exactly what the inspired author of the book of Hebrews tells us took place in Abraham’s life. This is the Spirit-inspired commentary and interpretation and explanation of this narrative in Hebrews 11:17-19: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac.” By faith he did this. “And he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”

That is the source of all surrender. It is the source of all genuine obedience to God. It is faith, it is faith that believes that God can raise the dead, that God can do a miracle, that God will be faithful this promises, that God will be faithful to his word. Abraham believed it.

So in some respects this was the most advanced, difficult test that Abraham ever faced. It was. But he didn’t face it as someone who was just learning the ABCs, but someone who has mastered the grammar book of faith over many, many years. He doesn’t face it as someone who’s just now running a mile, but someone who’s been running for years and years, and here’s the marathon, but he’s been well-trained for it, because he’s been walking by faith. So he just continues to trust God in this moment of crisis.

Brothers and sisters, that’s what you and I are called to do. We’re called to grow in faith, to advance in faith, so that when we face these severe tests there’s no wavering in that moment, because we trust God and because we know God. We know him, and we believe that God will be faithful to his promises.

It is true to say with Abraham and Isaac, “There is nothing that he cannot ask.” It is true to say that. But it is just as true, when you know God’s character and when you know God’s goodness and when yo know God’s promises, it is just as true to say, “There is nothing that I cannot trust him with.” There is nothing that he cannot ask of me, and there is nothing that I cannot trust with him. There is nothing that I cannot safely surrender into his keeping.

A.W. Tozer was a great author of the 20th century (in fact, Andy last week in his wonderful message shared some excerpts from Tozer). The first thing I ever read by A.W. Tozer was his book The Pursuit of God. A mentor gave it to me when I was 19 years old. I was at that age in life where I was dealing with all kinds of ambitions and desires and dreams. I wanted to be married and I wanted to go into the ministry and wanted a family. I had all of these desires, and I was at a point in life where lots of my desires were being thwarted, things were not coming together. Typical young-adult kinds of problems.

A very wise mentor gave me this book, The Pursuit of God, and there’s a chapter in that book that’s on Abraham and Isaac. It’s called “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing.” Here’s the interesting thing: Tozer wrote that chapter out of his own experience of surrender, when he wrestled with the Lord and surrendered to the Lord his daughter, and just trusted God with his daughter. She was so precious to him, his precious daughter, and he surrendered her into the Lord’s keeping.

The Lord used that in my life to bring me to points of surrender, of giving up dreams, giving up hopes, giving up desires. There really were—I mean, it may sound trite; you know, you look back on it now, because they were typical late teen and early young adult problems. But if you’re there, you know what this is like. I remember that through tears I gave to the Lord the desire to ever get married. I said, “Lord, if you don’t want me to get married, it’s okay,” and similar points of surrender that have had to happen in life, in various stages of life.

I think every one of us in the life of faith have to go through this. Here’s what we learn as we do. You know, when you’re in your 20s you don’t necessarily see this or believe this, but the older you get the more you come to understand what Tozer and what Abraham understood.

This is what Tozer said. “Everything is safe which we commit to him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed.” The only safe place for you to entrust your deepest desires and relationships and hopes and dreams is into the hands of the loving, heavenly Father; and faith understands that, faith perceives that. That is the heart of faith that gives rise to surrender. We surrender to God, and we do it out of faith in his promises.

Well, Abraham did, and that led him right up to the most excruciating moment of being willing to slay his son. Listen to verses 9 and 10. Just feel the tension mounting. “When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.” You can almost see that knife glinting in the sunlight as he’s about to plunge it into the breast of his son Isaac!

III. The Provision

What happens? What happens is provision. What happens is God, seeing the obedience and the surrender of his servant Abraham, God steps in. That leads us to the last segment of this chapter, the provision, verses 11-19. Let’s just work through it verse by verse.

(1) The first thing you see is rescue, in verse 11. “But the angel of the Lord called to him and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’” There’s an urgency now. “And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’”

The Lord comes to the rescue, and with just as much clarity as the command he had given at the beginning of this test, in verse 2, with just as much clarity by his word he reveals himself to Abraham, and he brings a resolution to this crisis of faith. It is a fulfillment of the promise that we have in Scripture, 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

This is the way of escape, as God interrupts Abraham, as he rescues Isaac, and as he commends Abraham for his fear of God and his love of God.

(2) Then in verses 13 and 14 you have the provision of the substitute. Look at verse 13. “And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The Lord will provide,’” or Yahweh-Yireh, or in the old King James, Jehovah-Jireh. “‘The Lord will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’”

So you see here the provision of God. It was already anticipated in Abraham’s words in verse 8, “God himself will provide a lamb for the offering,” and now God does provide. What does he provide? He provides a substitute for Isaac.

I’ve read that one time Martin Luther and his wife, Katie, were reading Genesis. They read Genesis 22 for family devotions, family worship. Of course, you know, they’re discovering the Bible—this is the Reformation, right. They’re discovering the Bible, they’re reading it together. And Katie hears this story and she says, “I don’t believe it! I don’t believe it. God wouldn’t treat his own Son like that.”

And Martin looked at Katie and said, “But Katie, he did. He did.”

God provided a substitute. How did he do it? He did it through sending his own Son to be our substitute. Romans 8:32 uses very similar language here to Genesis 22 when it says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, with him, graciously give us all things?” God did not spare his own Son, but he gave up his Son for us, to be our substitute, to be our Savior, to be our Redeemer.

I was listening yesterday to an interview with Mark Dever and some other people, and they were talking about the late R.C. Sproul. I love R.C. Sproul. R.C. Sproul was a great champion for the gospel, and especially for the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. Dever made this comment that he heard R.C. Sproul saying one time that we should rename ourselves, to kind of distinguish this stream of Christianity that really understands the gospel, we should call ourselves “substitutionists.” I don’t think it’s ever going to catch on, but it’s actually a good name. We are substitutionists. That’s what we believe! We believe that Jesus is the substitute, that Jesus took the place of sinners, that he died for us. He is that ram caught in the thicket, so we, like Isaac, can go free. That’s the heart of the gospel, that Christ died for our sins.

You remember what John the Baptist proclaimed in John 1, there when he’s introducing Christ to those first disciples, and he says, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Don’t the hymns we sing capture this so well?

“Bearing shame and scoffing rude
In my place condemned he stood,
Sealed my pardon with his blood;
Hallelujah, what a Savior!”

“How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That he would give his only Son
To make a wretch his treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss!
The Father turns his face away
As wounds, which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory.”

We’re substitutionists. You have that very principle right here in this story.

(3) There’s rescue in this provision, there’s provision of a substitute; and then notice this (verses 15-19): there is a covenant renewal. You see this again and again and again in the Abraham stories, that Abraham passes through an experience, he passes through a test. Sometimes he fails. Here, he passes the test with flying colors, and over and again God renews his promises, he renews his covenant. He assures Abraham that he will be faithful to the word he has given. Look at it in verse 15.

“And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, ‘By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord…’” The greatest oath that God can make is to swear by himself, the writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 6. “‘...By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.’” Verse 19, “So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.”

It shows us the faithfulness of God to keep his promises, to renew his covenant, to keep his covenant with the saints.

Now, we’re at the end of this series, of the series on Abraham. It would be possible to go on to chapters 23 and 24, but let me just give it to you in a nutshell. In chapter 23 we see God fulfilling, in kind of an initial downpayment kind of way, the promise of land as Abraham gets his very first plot of land in the promised land, and what is it? It’s a burial place for his wife, Sarah.

In chapter 24 we see God keeping his promise to give Abraham a family, to give him descendants, as he provides a wife for Isaac. Then in chapter 25 Abraham dies. He’s an old man, advanced in years, having lived this life of faith. As Hebrews tells us, he died, not having received the promises, but as one who was looking for this city that was yet to come. He had seen the promise from afar and he lived by faith, and there is coming a day when Abraham will receive the ultimate fulfillment of these promises, as Abraham and all of his family will receive a new heavens and a new earth, in which dwells righteousness, as God gives Abraham all things through Jesus Christ.

This series we’ve called “The God of Promise and the Life of Faith.” As we draw to a close and draw this message to a close, let me give you these two takeaways.

Here’s the first one: the God of promise. God is faithful and true, he is faithful to his word, all his promises are yes and amen in Jesus Christ. I want you to know that. I want you to grasp that. I want you to imitate Abraham in his faith and trust in the promises of God, because God is faithful.

Here’s the second takeaway. This means that you can trust him with everything. There is nothing in your life that you cannot trust God with. I wonder this morning, what is it that you need to surrender to him today? Maybe it’s some dream, maybe it’s some ambition or some desire. Maybe it’s marriage, you’re not married and you wanted, you’ve wanted to be; maybe it’s turning that over to the Lord if you never have before. Maybe it is children, if you have a desire for children and God has not granted that.

Maybe it is some relationship in your life that is so precious to you, but you fear losing it. There are times when we need to do this, where we give to the Lord, we surrender to the Lord everything that is precious to us. “Lord, here’s my spouse, here are my kids, here are my siblings, here’s my family.”

It may be giving to the Lord some ministry. “Lord, here’s my church, here’s my ministry, here are the things that I want to do for you”; it’s trusting the Lord with that. Maybe giving the Lord some career. At its very heart, it is giving to the Lord yourself, right, surrendering yourself to the Lord.

I want to end with these words from C.S. Lewis, who I think as winsomely as anyone that I’ve ever read commends to us the giving of our very selves to the Lord and the promise of life that is given to those who surrender to him. Listen to what Lewis said.

“Christ says, ‘Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your money, so much of your work; I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and branch there; I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth or crown it or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked, the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself. My own will shall become yours.’”

Have you done that this morning? Have you given the Lord yourself and everything precious to you?

Years ago, someone challenged me to do something. This is a blank sheet of paper, with my name written on the bottom. Someone challenged me, I think it was in a sermon, to take a blank sheet of paper and sign it at the bottom with your name, and then give it to the Lord and say, “Lord, you fill out the page.”

I keep that; it’s usually in my desk. It’s just a symbol of the kind of surrender that the Lord desires from us.

I wonder if you will do something like that this morning. Whether you do it on a piece of paper or you do it in the quiet of your heart, would you do that? Would you give the Lord yourself? Give him everything. Give him the blank sheet and say, “Lord, I trust you. I trust you with your promises, I trust your goodness, I trust your word.” You will not be disappointed, because God is faithful. Let’s pray.

Our gracious and merciful heavenly Father, we thank you that you have revealed yourself to be faithful and true, faithful to all of your promises. You’ve given such great and wonderful promises to us, but most supremely you’ve given us your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. You made the greatest possible sacrifice, and it shows us the depth of your love, it shows us the magnitude of your mercy, it shows us the greatness of your grace.

Lord, in response, we give ourselves to you. Lord, I pray this morning for anyone who maybe has never done that, who has never bowed their knee to King Jesus, who’s never surrendered to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I pray that you would give them the heart to do so today, and a heart full of faith in you.

Lord, I pray for every one of us as believers, wherever we are in this journey of faith, however advanced and difficult the tests are or have been up to this point, I pray, Lord, that we would learn the lessons of faith and that, like Abraham, we would trust you with everything, that we would believe that you are the God of miracles, that you are the God of the impossible, that you are the God of resurrection.

Father, I pray this morning that we would especially trust the very promises of the gospel, that you are the God who did the miraculous in bringing Christ, your Son, in the incarnation to be born of a virgin and then to die this cruel death on Calvary and then on the third day raise him from the dead. You assured us in the resurrection, in the empty tomb, that our sins are canceled and forgiven through the cross, that death has been defeated, that our enemies are all defeated, and that there is eternal life with you, that death is not the end. May we trust that promise, may we believe it in our heart of hearts, and may we live life with deep confidence and faith, knowing that this is the God you are.

Father, I pray that as we come to the table this morning we would come with meditation in our hearts on the wonder of the cross of Christ and on the depth of your love for us. I pray, Lord, that as we take the bread and the juice we would in so taking be expressing the very faith of our hearts, that we believe and we trust in your love. We surrender ourselves to you even as we take all that you have offered to us in Christ. We pray, Lord, that you would be glorified in this time together. So draw near to us, we pray in Jesus’ name and for his sake, Amen.