Alan Hall, associational missionary
Mulberry Baptist Association
It’s not easy to find suitable TV programming nowadays. My search for such has led me to home-fixer-upper/do-it-yourself kind of shows. I find they fall into two general categories:
I admit that I am drawn to the latter. It's amazing just how much mayhem and pandemonium ensues when we do it ourselves. “Instructions? What instructions? I can do this” is the mentality. Queue the theme song “I did it My Way”, which is really not the best theme song for life.
Have you ever attempted a do-it-yourself project? Did you seek any advice? Did you make any choices you wish you hadn’t? What did you learn?
Today, through the story of Abraham, we will see that God’s plans are always better than our own. He left his homeland and his relatives behind to follow God’s plan. Abraham receives word from God that he would have a son and many descendants, though he and his wife Sarai were advanced in years.
Abram is an old man and a childless man, as he likes to remind God. The covenant is made and God tells Abram, “Do not fear” – the first of the “fear not’s “in the Bible. This must have comforted Abram because he believed this unusual promise. Abram didn’t know the entire plan for his life, but he knew what God had revealed to him thus far and trusted it. God credited Abram’s belief as righteousness.
When considering our life plans the first step is to consider what God has already revealed to us and trust Him until He reveals more, waiting when necessary.
Notice something about verse 2? “Sarai said to Abram, 'Since the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps through her I can build a family.' And Abram agreed to what Sarai said.”
This is where expert advice was left behind and it becomes a do-it-yourself project. Sarai says “perhaps” or “it may be” that “I” can build a family. God’s way is replaced by “My Way." Our projects and life plans go astray when we make the poor choice of veering, even slightly from what we know God has said to do and begin to follow the path of “perhaps or maybe I could do it this other way.”
Abram agreed to tweak the plan a little. After all, he is an old man with a promise from God that has had no fulfillment. Abram is struggling with God’s promise and the reality of his present situation.
What should we do when we find ourselves in such a predicament? The best answer would be “Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). Philippians 1:6 further tells us that God completes his work – so we must trust Him for things He has said he will do – wait on Him and avoid the poor choice of doing it ourselves.
Do you recall a time when you had to wait on the Lord? Are there times when you went your way instead of God’s way?
In this passage God fills in the details for (now named) Abraham and Sarah. When we stray from God’s plan we must return. Abraham falls on his face before God as he learns that God indeed was right.
We make poor choices also; we get ahead of God as well. Following God’s plan is not always the easiest thing (Abraham even laughed at his unique situation) but certainly it is the best thing.
Abraham’s poor choices and ours have consequences. But God can still bless us and work through us when we refocus on Him. The Abrahamic Covenant (God’s plan for Abraham) is confirmed and once again God does what he says He will do.
It is hard to imagine what Abraham and Sarah must have been thinking when God revealed this plan; I might have laughed also. Consider Joseph and Mary, a young couple just routinely planning their lives together when God drastically changes their plan. Thankfully, to their credit, they made good choices when God revealed “His Way” for their lives. Paul’s Damascus Road experience, and Jonah’s story, but also your story and mine, are studies for life as God redeems our broken moments.
Perhaps sharing some personal testimonies relating to today’s lesson would be helpful. Has God redeemed you from a poor choice in life?
I recall a time when I wanted to pursue a business venture and instead of seeking God’s will I simply told Him what I was going to do and then asked Him to bless it. I was way ahead of Him and doing it “my way” brought miserable results. But, God redeemed me from my poor choices and used the situation to draw me closer to Himself and even called me to ministry. In ministry, as both a pastor and an associational missionary, I have developed a planning guide so that I don’t get ahead of God.
It is simply this:
Pray first (for wisdom and direction). Listen (to God’s Word and wise counsel). Act (do what God has told me to do). Nuture (pray again).
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