“Test Anxiety

Posted on 29 Mar 2020, Pastor: Randy Sturzenbecher
 
Genesis 22:1-14 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Sacrifice of Isaac
22 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 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.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled 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. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 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.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 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?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

9 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. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 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.” 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. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Lent 5 Judica  March 29th 2020   (Live stream service only, Corona Virus)

Genesis 22:1-14 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Sacrifice of Isaac
22 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 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.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled 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. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 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.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 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?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

9 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. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 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.” 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. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Trusting God is impossible without faith.

In the Name of +Jesus+

1After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.,” 2He 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.” 

Do you know what test anxiety is?   It’s a worry or even a fear of taking tests.  Some students get so worked up about taking the test that they simple crumble when that piece of paper is put in front of them.  No matter how much they have studied, no matter how well they know the material, when they are tested they falter and fail. 

Tests have a way of causing anxiety because they give definite answers.    A young couple sets the timer on their phone for two minutes while they hold the pregnancy test.  The butterflies feel more like B 52s as they wait.  Then the news is confirmed. God has given them a child, or more disappointment. 

Right now if you cough in a crowd, if you look sick,   others around you have test anxiety.  Do you have Coronavirus?   You should be tested because I am too close to you!

Abraham and Issac were tested too.  1After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.,” 2He 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.” 

God was testing Abraham and Issac’s faith.  God testing faith serves two great purposes.  It gives clear answers to two questions. 

Do you fear love and trust in God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in all things?     

What are the false gods you give into?

When God tested Abraham, He passed.  No question about it.   Really,…….there were not questions.  God said go sacrifice your son, Abraham rose early the next morning saddled his donkey and went.    Abraham did not go to Sara or his neighbors and friends and try to interpret what God was asking.  

He did not try and manipulate God’s word so it would not hurt so much or cost him so much. 

He did not try to keep the letter of the law by saying well Ishmael is my son too.   God tested Abraham. Abraham responded in faith.  God answered and provided.

Testing of our faith is good because it forces all the impurities,    all the insecurities and the wrong things we believe and trust in,    to the surface where they can be confessed and forgiven.  

In our Lenten journey, we are working through the Lord’s Prayer seeing in all the petitions our Lord’s Suffering death and resurrection.  This Wednesday evening is the 5th Petition.  And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  

Trespass is a formal way of saying someone has hurt me.  Maybe you have been lied to by your friends or your boss.  Maybe it’s the rumors going around school about you.  Maybe you have gone through the checkbook and its clear someone is stealing from you.  Maybe the result of your hurt has left bruises on your body by the one that promised to love honor and cherish you.   Here is the test.   Forgive them. 

Maybe that young girl holding the pregnancy test has butterflies because she is pregnant.  She is alone. She has no idea how she can support this baby.  She contemplates abortion.   

Or on the other end of life, the Dr. has confirmed what you suspected.  There is no cure.  Loss of independence, loss of control, pain and suffering are your future. You’re consumed with thoughts of euthanasia.   Here is the test.  Trust God with the life He has given you.  Trust Him with your death. 

Here is one that hits us right in the pocketbook.    Am I going to trust my finances to God or not?   Am I going to joyfully give back to God because of His abundant blessing or not? 

I know the temptation, especially right now, our tendency is to cut expenses, to wait and see what happens, to make sure we have enough.   Here is the test.  Do you trust God with your finances or is it your idol? 

Listen to what God promises through the OT Prophet Malachi.   

Malachi 3:10 

10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 

Dear child of God, don’t be afraid to put God to the test and hold Him accountable to His promises.  That’s What Abraham did.  A Pastor friend of mine paraphrased Abraham holding God accountable to His promises this way. 

“’Okay, God, you want me to offer Isaac as a sacrifice on one of the mountains You will show me. Fine. But, since all of Your promises to save me and all of us from ourselves, to save me and all people from all our sins, are tied up in the coming Christ Who will one day descend from this son of mine—then, LORD, either You will have to raise Isaac from dead today, or You will have to provide for Yourself a lamb for the offering.’

And God did.   In the thicket behind Abraham was a Ram caught in the thorns.  You see Abraham being faithful was a mirror image of God being faithful to us in Jesus.

Matthew 20:19

 3 days Abraham traveled to the place where the sacrifice would happen. Jesus promised that He would be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” 

Issac carried the wood for the sacrifice on His back.  Jesus carried His own cross, on His beaten and bloody back, to the place of His crucifixion.   

Here is something we don’t often think about.   Isaac obediently offered himself as the sacrifice.   Abraham was an old man by this time.   Isaac was young and strong. If He wanted to he easily could have overpowered Abraham, but he didn’t.    

Philippians 2:8 

Jesus being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

Issac went free.  The ram, with his head caught in the thorns, was innocent and was the sacrifice to save Issac and Abraham.  St. John said it,  “Look the Lamb of God that comes to take away the sins of the world.”

Dear saints when we are tested hold Jesus accountable to His Promises.

Ok, Lord.  I can’t get by the hurt and the hate I have for those who have hurt me on my own.  I know you died on the cross and have forgiven me for everything.  Give me the ability to forgive as I have been forgiven because you said,     

Matthew 6:14

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 

Lord, I don’t know how I am going to raise this child on my own.   I know all life is a gift from you but I hold on to your promises.

 Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Lord I can’t bear the thought of the painful end of my life but I trust what you have promises Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Romans 6:4

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  

This is how we worship today.   We hold God accountable to the promises He has made to us. We come into the presence of the most Holy Trinity and we confess our test anxiety.  We confess that we have failed more times than we have been faithful.  And we hold God accountable to His promise that our unfaithfulness and failures are forgiven by Jesus. 

We are confident that the Pastors Word to us is just as valid and binding as if Jesus Himself spoke that forgiveness into your ears.   

We are joyful even in the midst of this pandemic, because who or what is more powerful than God keeping His promises to us in Jesus? 

No one.  No fear.  No selfishness.  No devil. No world.  No loss, not even death itself is as powerful, merciful and loving as Jesus.  Who has been tested and found faithful for you? 

In the Name of +Jesus+ Amen.