Sunday, October 6, 2013

You or Me?


Genesis 16
1  Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar.
2  So Sarai said to Abram, “The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.
3  So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.)
4  So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt.
5  Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The LORD will show who’s wrong—you or me!”
6  Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away.

It was not just “you or me”, as Sarai said, but it was all three. They were all wrong! Let’s survey this situation:
·       Sarah was wrong because:
o   She misread God’s will
§  She thought “Not Now” meant “Never” – The voice inside her head was saying yes and now!
§  When God is not moving fast enough for you – you need to slow down!
o   Sarai was wrong because she took what would have been a temporary situation and used it to create a permanent problem.
o   Sarai also made an agreement, a proposal, and when it didn’t work out to her benefit, she acted like she was never a part.
§  She blamed others for something she initially caused
·       Abram was also wrong because:
o   Just like Adam, he didn’t stand on God’s Word
o   Neither did he use God’s Word to balance his wife’s concerns, her disappointments, fears, hopes and dreams for the future.
§  That’s not a very responsible “head” of the household
§  The leadership role of husband is not just a tradition but the order God gave the family
·       We must stick to God’s Word and God’s order
§  As much as we expect God to maintain the Father’s role and Jesus the role of an obedient Son, and the Church a supportive Bride … God expects us to maintain the family order – God is a God of order.
·       Adam abdicated his God given position and so did Abram … and forced their wives to face the future alone and afraid and come up with their own independent solutions in the vacuum of leadership.
o   Abram ultimately agreed to compromise his convictions
§  We don’t know all of the reasons but come on now …
o   Then Abram abdicated his family leadership responsibilities once again when he refused to get involved and fix the evident problem between these two women in his house.
§  He just turned it over once again to Sarah who had caused the problem in the first place … like that’s going to help!
·       Abram put an angry, aggressive and misguided, fearful, offended follower in the place of leadership because he didn’t want to mess with it.
o   It took an angel from heaven to straighten that mess out … and it’s not straight yet!
·       Finally, Hagar was wrong because:
o   She got a bad attitude – a little too big for her britches …
§  perhaps she saw her chance and took it
§  maybe she was always a gold digger – who knows
§  but one thing we do know, she was ungrateful to Sarah for giving here this chance to be a part of the future
o   No doubt Hagar felt entitled – after all, she was the one doing all the work … why should she play second fiddle?
o   This same attitude would come back to haunt her and hurt her later in life when displayed by her son towards Isaac.
o   Hagar became a problem and started causing problems for the very one who God had called her to serve – she felt contempt!
o   Proverbs says:

Proverbs 30
21  There are three things that make the earth tremble — no, four it cannot endure:
22  a slave who becomes a king, an overbearing fool who prospers,
23  a bitter woman who finally gets a husband, and a servant girl who supplants her mistress.

In life we can be tempted, tested and tried. Sometimes God will test His children; the devil is always tempting everybody; and life has a way of trying us all at one time or another. Everyday there is potential for us to feel stretched beyond our capacity to endure. What then is our hope?

What can we do when we feel we are being pressed beyond our limits or stretched beyond our capacity to endure? Here are three lessons we can learn today. When you feel tempted, tested or tried:

1.   Wait on God. (Don’t get ahead of God)
a.   Remember: If God is not moving fast enough for us … we need to slow down.
b.   When we try to get something God is not ready or willing to give us, it complicates everything.
c.   If the fruits of our solution is more drama and division – most likely it was not from God.

Psalms 27:14  Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Waiting on the Lord was one of the defining attributes of David. When God said David was a man after His own heart perhaps some of that consideration was David’s great patience to wait on the Lord.

Psalms 37:34  Wait on the LORD, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.

Psalms 37:9  For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.

Even Solomon, the son of David, in his great wisdom declared:

Proverbs 20:22  Do not say, "I will recompense evil"; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.

The prophets knew the benefit of waiting on God:

Isaiah 40:31  But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

2.   Stand On The Last Word God Gave You. – (Refuse to compromise your convictions)
a.   Do your job – the job God gave you.
b.   Both Abram and Adam had a Word from God …
c.   We should not quit what God last called us to do
d.   Ask ourselves: Am I where God put me? (a husband; wife; father; son; daughter; servant; leader) If the answer is yes – we stand on the last word God gave us. (Luke 12:43)
e.   Some fool themselves imagining God to be involved in everything they do or in everything that works … don’t be deceived – only God can measure success … (Absalom)
                                       i.    many new beginnings have nothing to do with God.
                                     ii.    some successful ventures are simply works of the flesh

1 Corinthians 7
20  Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.
21  Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. (Not “if we can free ourselves” …)
22  For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.
23  You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
24  Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.

Is the Lord telling us not to try and improve on our situations or circumstances of life? No! What the scriptures point to is the greater truth of contentment in the place and with the people God has called us to serve. God knew who we were, what we were and where we were when he called us and He spent a long time and a lot of effort getting us just right for where we are and what we are doing.

Others are not near as capable of doing what God has spent your lifetime training you to do and just when you could really be great at your life’s calling, and do a very necessary service for God … you vacate your God-given position and leave the decisions to Sarai – God didn’t call her Abraham! God just spent 10 years getting you to the place you knew what to do in this crisis and you leave in a critical moment and further destabilize the covenant plan of God??? What could you be thinking Abram?

Let’s not compromise the Word of God trying to accomplish the will of God.

3.   Be Thankful For What You’ve Got – (Don’t discount the blessings of God) – God chooses whom He uses very carefully – like David …
a.   Hagar was very ungrateful and showed no appreciation for being brought into Abram and Sarai’s house and allowed such a coveted position; she was no doubt trusted; cared for; loved; honored; and made a part of the family. God put her there …
b.   The Bible clearly says that Hagar treated her blessing with contempt.
c.   Hagar was chosen by Sarai to be blessed … and was blessed
                                       i.    Every blessing is a gift from God most likely paid for by someone else – (“shall men give into your bosom”)
                                     ii.    Our job, our marriage, some situation where someone took a chance on us, gave us an opportunity, showed us kindness, promoted us or blessed us in some way --- these are gifts straight from God.
d.   Treat your blessings as gifts from God.

Colossians 3:15  And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

And, if there was a number four today it would be: Stop blaming others for the problems you cause