By John Crist
“FIERY BUT NOT STRANGE”
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.
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
1 Pet 1:3-7
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
1 Pet 4:12
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
We are living in perplexing and challenging times! We struggle in ways that people do not even know that we struggle. We have raised a generation of people who cannot deal with delayed gratification. Everything must be now! Everything must be fast! Everything must be quick! Instead of us setting the pattern for the world, the world has set the pattern for us! In an endeavor to reach a point of appeal for the social systems of our society, we have changed the gospel to make it more relevant to the masses. We have peddled a gospel that was not gospel, making our people think that God was Santa Claus, and that His function was to just give you everything that you wanted, whenever you wanted, and however you wanted! In our endeavor to balance the extremity of the early church, whereby they thought that suffering somehow glorified God, almost as if God were some type of neurotic schizoid that got pleasure out of child abuse! The old folk seem to think that god got glory out of you being sick, broke, defeated and discouraged, and the worse off you were, the more spiritual they thought you were! This generation rose up to rebel against audacity and atrocity of those statements, and went all the way to the other extreme and begin to weigh the value of your commitment to God, by your CD’s, annuities, and investments. Now, there is nothing wrong with prosperity, but we preached prosperity and it became a source and a place of intimidation for people who did not have, of temporarily did not have, or went through moments that they did not have what others had. We intimidated them as if they had no faith because they did not have what we had!
I came to tell you tonight that all of that was not in balance! The tragedy of all that is that we have failed people to be prepared for a real walk with God. And because we have not taught people to realize that faith does not exempt you from tragedy and adversity, many have been awestruck when you have named, and claimed, and believed, and declared, and read all the material on faith, and went to all the workshops and seminar’s, and still had trouble that persisted in your life! I came to jerk the cover! I came to unveil the truth, that you will never know that you have faith, until you are in a good fight!
Real faith is proven in the furnace of affliction, in the time of adversity! We will know that you believe God, not because you didn’t go through anything, but we will know that you believe God, because you did go through some things, and maintained your integrity while you persevered!
The 12th chapter of Hebrews, when it talked about being compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us: It makes us look back at the eleventh chapter, where it celebrates men and women of faith, who had troubles and trials. Some were sawn asunder, faced obstacles, fiery darts, some not excepting deliverance in order that they might obtain a better resurrection, some had their dead raised back to life, some went through dry places and deserts, and in spite of their peril and their distresses, God saluted them for the magnitude of their faith! Their faith was not exemplified by their apparel or the camel they rode, but they had a faith in God like Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!” You know the truth of the matter? Your faith must stand trial! Sooner or later, in your life, your faith must stand trial! It does not matter whether you are married or single, there will be a trial for your faith. Whether you live on the east side or the west, black or white, rich or poor, aristocratic and affluent or decadent and illiterate, there still is going to be a trial of your faith! No-one will escape the courtroom of God!
Single people are thinking, “If I could just get married, I could escape this trial!” Look around you! There are married people thinking, “If I could just get rid of him…….!”
I believe that God in His omniscient wisdom, knew that we were going to face a generation of people who did not expect to go through anything; because not only does He speak about the fiery trials, He speaks about the attitude of the person who has not prepared themselves to go through the struggle and says, “Think it not strange…….that these fiery trails have come upon you……” The truth of the matter is, that every man, woman, boy and girl, will go through a time where your faith must stand trial! I am not talking about a preliminary hearing, I am talking about a trial! I am not talking about some little light affliction like when somebody didn’t call your name when all the rest were getting mentioned! I am not talking about when somebody walked by you and did not speak to you! I am talking about a real trial! I am afraid for this generation as we join all of the saints of the ages in Heaven, and as they stand before God some are saying “I was stoned to death, crucified up-side-down, thrown to wild beast, and etc:” and the worst thing this generation is going to be able to say happened to them is, “Somebody talked about me!” I am embarrassed because we have more Word available to us than any other generation, we have the intellectual preacher, the back-woods preacher, the smooth, the not so smooth, we have more, we go to church more and getting less out of it, we’ve got more routines, more professionals, everybody is professional, everybody has a resume, but we need POWER!
The Bible speaks to women and says that you are Sarah’s daughters, if you are not struck with amazement! If you can go through a test and keep a cool head, you are a daughter of Sarah! If you can go through adversity and still keep a praise in your mouth, you are a daughter of Sarah! If you can go through a crisis in your marriage or with your children or in your life without going into depression and needing spiritual respirators to come around by you house, then you are a daughter of Sarah! If you can put a smile on your face, and fight a tear out of the corner of your eye, and lift up your hands in the sanctuary and bless God, you are a daughter of Sarah! If you can quit feeling sorry for yourself, and stop you pity parties, and your mood swings, coming in like everybody has mistreated you, you are a daughter of Sarah!
God is saying, “Who told you that nothing would happen to you?” “Who told you that you wouldn’t come through trials?” “YOUR FAITH MUST STAND TRIAL!” No matter who you are! No matter how nice you look or beautiful you are! No matter how much money you have, or good you are! No matter how much you pray or fast! No matter how much you prophesy! No matter how talented or gifted! No matter how prolific or profound! No matter how many times they call on you to sing or to play! Still you will have trouble and trial!
Touch a neighbor and say, “What are you shocked about?” “Who crucified you?” “Who sawed you asunder?” “Who nailed you up-side-down?” “……These light affictions, which are but for a moment, weigh for a far more exceeding weight in glory!” In other words: If we can but stand, for every trial there’s going to be a glory! We are asking God to fix things that He is not going to fix! WE are asking Him to change things, and move things, that He is not going to change or move; because, “His strength is made perfect in weakness…….” He will give you the grace to bear it! He may not change it or move it, but He will give you grace to stand and bear it! God will give you a grace that doesn’t even make any sense, a peace that boggles the mind! He will give you such a grace that all you friends will say, “I wouldn’t take it! I don’t understand how you are able to do it!” You won’t even know what they are talking about because God so equip you! He told His disciples, “When you go before Judges, don’t even take a though as to what you will say, but when the time is right, open your mouth and I will speak to them through you!” You don’t even have to premeditate a defense for yourself! If your faith is on trial, you don’t even have to worry about it, when it is time to speak, just open your mouth and God is going to speak.
I didn’t come to preach to everybody tonight, I came to preach to somebody! It may not fit the masses or the multitude, but I have a Word from God for somebody who has been going through the fire, and wondered in their own mind, “Lord, how long?” “Lord, why are things like they are?” “Lord I am trying to do all I know to try, and I don’t understand why I am going through, what I am going through!” I have come to tell you that God will not take you out of the fire, but He will be a thermostat in the furnace! He will regulate the heat in your life! He will put barriers in front of the enemy and tell him, “Enough is enough!” He will let him know when to get up off of you! That’s why I trust nobody but the Lord to defend me. “He knows the way that I take, and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold…” If God had not been the thermostat in your fiery furnace you would have burned up long ago! Every time that it was about to destroy you, He just put the brakes on and said, “Not today!” Every time you were about to have a nervous breakdown, He just said, “Not another step!” Every time you were at the end of your rope, He just said, “Cool it, I giving a little grace today!” I Praise Him because He’s God in the middle of the fire! He’s God in the middle of trouble!
Touch your neighbor and say, “Don’t worry about it!” “Your faith is on trial, but you’ve got a good lawyer!” You have got somebody that is pleading your case! You have got a voice in the courtroom of the heavenly’s! You have got somebody petitioning the throne room for you! I know you pray wonderful prayers, and you’ve fasted, but I’ve come to tell you that it has not been your prayer, it has not been your fasting, that has brought you through the things that you have come through, neither has it been your commitment, but when you couldn’t pray for yourself, The spirit itself made intercession for you with groanings that cannot be uttered! It prayed you through some bad nights, some depression, and some sore times, but the Holy Ghost groaned until you got a breakthrough! You are here by the mercy of God!
Let everybody else be important! Let everybody else be conservative! let everybody else be quiet! But let the redeemed say so! You who have been delivered from the fire! You have got to say so! You have a bona-fide right to praise the Lord! You cannot stop praising Him, because you know that you should have been dead a long time ago, but God delivered me!
Tell your neighbor, “I’ve got to praise Him!” “Ain’t no need in you getting mad, I got to praise Him!” “I know you don’t want to hear it, but I have got to praise Him!” “I know I make you nervous, but I got to praise Him!” “I know I get loud, but I got to praise Him!” “I know that it upsets you, but I got to praise Him!”
You cannot talk about faith without talking about Abraham! He is the father of faith, the progenitor of Christian ethics. Faith at it’s finest is exemplified in the life of Abraham. He was born one nationality, to cross to another nationality in the middle o his life. By faith, the gentile became a Jew! By faith he birthed a new nation out of old loins, because he believed God! It was counted unto him as righteousness! He wasn’t right, but he believed God so good that God just said, “If your going to believe me that good, I’ll just go ahead and credit your account!” I know you are not right. I know every little thought about you. But I’ll except faith as a medium of exchange, just like businesses except money as a medium of exchange, yet money does you no good in heaven at all because faith is the commerce of heaven. God says, “If you believe me, I’ll go ahead and give you righteousness, and not only righteousness, but I’ll give you land! In fact, everywhere your feet trod, Everywhere I see your footprint, I’ll give it to you!” It’s up to you. If you can walk it out, you can have it! If you can stand up under it, you can have it! If you can maintain your course while under opposition, you can have it! God said you could mark off your blessings by your footprints. You better watch my feet! My feet are marching toward something! A goal! Every time you see my footprint, just know that in time I’m going to get my blessing! I may have to crawl, wallow, tear my clothes, go through a crisis, it may be a long court-case, it might be much deliberation, the jury might be hung for months, but when it is over, I shall come forth as pure gold! I’m gonna get it! I’m gonna get it! I’m gonna get it! I’m gonna get it because I believe God!
Abraham’s faith had many preliminary hearings, pre-tests, and trials. “Abraham, leave your country and kindred.” Preliminary hearing! “Go to a land of which I shall show you!” Abraham, who wasn’t even a warrior, had to get in a fight to get Lot out of trouble. Faith has to be able to do battle! It has to go through war sometimes! By faith a grown man took a knife and circumcised himself, signifying that faith will bring you into holiness! It will make you cut away things you thought you couldn’t live without! It will make you clean up your lifestyle! Nobody is going to cut it for you, you got to cut it yourself!
Faith took him through many trials, tribulations, and adversities! Faith, in a preliminary hearing, told him that he would bring forth a son when he was old. And it was held up until his wife was well past child-bearing age, now she was barren and dead, and they held the case until the body was dead! When it became completely impossible to men, then God gave them a date and said, “Now I’m going to bless you!” As long as you can see your way clear, God will do absolutely nothing! It is when there is absolutely no way for you to get it, all of your props and plans have failed, your budget is blown, and you can’t figure it out, and the checks are all overdrawn, and you can’t see no way how you can make it, God says, “Now I’m ready to bless you!” When you come through this next test, you are going to know who to praise! You are going to know that it is “……Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit saith the Lord of Host!”
All the people that would have got the credit for your success will step aside, so that when you are blessed you will be able to say, “If it had not been for the Lord on my side……..!” Not anybody else but the Lord!
In the 22nd chapter of the Book of Genesis, the case has come to court. Now God gives Abraham an opportunity to stand through a trial. He says, “Take now thy son, thine only son….,” Abraham here is acting as a shadow of what God would do through Christ, “……..and get thee into the Land of Moriah……” Sometimes when faith goes on trial, you got to get away from people. He begins to move, and he goes a long journey carrying an inner circle of friends with him, but when he is yet three days journey away form the test, the Bible says that he looked up and saw the place afar off.
There are three things that I want to talk to you about and then I’ll be finished.
First of all I want to talk to you about the place of a trial, then the purpose of a trial, then I want to talk to you about the provisions of a trial!
Abraham knew that it was coming, but he didn’t know where it was coming. God said, “I’ll show you the place.” If you will walk with God, He will show you what you are going to go through before you go through it. If you really walk with God, usually there will be some fore-warning. Some inner-awareness that equips you to be prepared, you are going to go through a test! It might be a thought that prepares you for a friend that is going to betray you. The problem with us is that we do not hear what the spirit is saying to the church! If you walk close to God, and don’t be surprised if the wind blows and He’s not in it, the fire comes and He’s’ not in it, the earthquake shakes and He’s not in it, because God don’t want to lead you by theatrics, but listen to that still small voice that talks way down in the inner-most parts of your being. God will let you know who you can trust and who you cannot trust, talk to and not talk to, where you can rest and where you cannot rest. Every now and then He will nudge you and say, “You can’t rest here!”
He said, “Go up to Mt. Moriah…” Mt. Moriah was a ridge of mountains, but in the ridge of mountains there was a particular mountain. Abraham did not know which mountain amongst all of those mountains but God said, “You’ll know it when you see it!” While he was yet three days journey from it, he looked up and saw the place afar off.
Standing almost as it were in the shadow of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, toward the place where His faith would be challenged with the cross. Abraham has with him those inner circle of people, as Jesus did. Those people that you THINK that you can carry with you. But there is a place in your trial, that even your closest friends are barred from the courtroom. Abraham being sensitive to this time in his life, says to those that are with him, “This is as far as you can go.” Jesus says to Peter, James, and John, “Wait here and pray, and He went a little farther to pray!” There is a place in your trial that you cannot take anybody, no matter who! Husband, wife, or children cannot go! He said to them, “Abide ye here with the asses, and I and the lad will go yonder and worship and return….” Sacrifice is worship! I don’t care how much you skip and shout, it is not worship until you lay something down, something valuable to you! Until you lay it down, it is not worship!
The word “worship” comes from a word that means “worthship,” to express the worth of something. And when we lay down some things that are dear to us, that is Worship!
Abraham at the pinnacle of worship, says, “We are going yonder to worship, and return…” As long as you know in the back of your mind, that when it’s all over, I’m coming back again, no devil in hell can destroy you. If you keep in the back of your mind, I’m coming out of this. I don’t know how! When! Who! How! But I do know that before it’s over, I’m coming out of this! I know that I’m coming out of this because there is a prophesy over my life, and I haven’t done everything that God said I was going to do! It ain’t over till I come out of this! Look at your neighbor and say, “Expect me to come back!” “I may be quiet now, but expect me to come out of this!” ” I may be broke, busted and disgusted, but expect me to come out of this!” In every persons life there is a place of testing. You can see it afar off, and you must walk alone! There is a place in your life that everything that you ever said, shouted about or testified about, must be tested, in order to see whether you are just talk or not!
The purpose of the trial is to show Satan that no matter what you were going to do the will of the father!
The benefit of the trial is to let you know that you are tougher than you think you are. You can go through more than you think you can. Look over you shoulder and see how God has fortified you in the past, blessed you, strengthened you! It was Him that was holding you together! I know that there were times when He had to rock you to sleep, but He held you when there was nobody else to hold you! He is making a better worshipper out of you! You can learn the Hebrew and the Greek, but when you go through hell and high water with the help of the Lord, you forget all about that, and become a better worshipper than you have ever been. Your faith must go on trial!