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Sunday, October 10, 2021

Seeking God’s Guidance





This is the second sermon in a four sermon series "Finding and Following God's Guidance"

As we said last week, God’s guidance is available, and we ought to trust it.  However, as with other things from God, we need to ask, seek, and knock.  To ask seek and knock, clarifies and confirms our openness to do God’s will. It sharpens and quickens our desires to seek that will as Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Our text is Paul’s prayer of concern that the church avoids doctrinal compromise by seeking God’s guidance and therefore strengthening Christian practices.

Colossians 1:9‭-‬10 NIV For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

Paul’s prayer features three major requests.

  1. That the church “be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.”

  2. That the church function in the practice of God’s will “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”

  3. That the church focuses on fully pleasing the Lord by “being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”


For an audio recording of the sermon click the YouTube link at the end of the manuscript.


Text: 

Colossians 1:9‭-‬10 NIV For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

Introduction


As we said last week, God’s guidance is available, and we ought to trust it. 

Remember our text from last week.   

Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NIV Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

However, as with other things from God, we need to ask, seek, and knock. 

Matthew 7:7‭-‬8 NIV “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

To ask seek and knock, clarifies and confirms our openness to do God’s will. It sharpens and quickens our desires to seek that will as Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

There are many good reasons why we should seek God’s guidance. However, the reason that the apostle Paul focused his attention as he evaluated the church at Colossae is especially important.  

He prayed that they seek God’s guidance and not compromise.  Compromise and weak Christian conduct would be the result without God’s guidance. In the Christian church in Colossae pagan philosophy and Jewish legalism were being mixed with Christian beliefs by some religious teachers at Colossae. The result was supposed to be a superior Christianity. But instead, it was inferior.

Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter.  He had received a visit from a man by the name of Epaphras who give him a report of what was going on in Colossae.  

Our text is Paul’s prayer of concern that the church avoids doctrinal compromise by seeking God’s guidance and therefore strengthening Christian practices.

Paul’s prayer features three major requests.

  1. That the church “be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.”

  2. That the church function in the practice of God’s will “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”

  3. That the church focuses on fully pleasing the Lord by “being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”


I.  His first request was that the church “be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.”


Colossians 1:9 NIV For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,

Religious knowledge and the knowledge of God’s will are not necessarily synonymous. Much religious knowledge is not only in conflict with God’s will but can destroy God’s work in the world. We have seen that happen in some of the cults of our day. Paul’s prayer request confirms a need for a particular religious knowledge, the knowledge of God’s will. 

The knowledge of God's will can be divided into three categories: God’s ultimate or sovereign will, God’s intentional will, and God’s permissive will.

A. God’s ultimate will or sovereign will. 

Some of God’s will is irresistible, unconditional, and inevitable. 

Psalms 115:3 NIV Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.

Isaiah 46:10 NIV I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’

Regardless of human responses, his plans will unfold. 

Proverbs 19:21 NIV Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

We need the knowledge that God is sovereign over the universe and that his goals will prevail. 

John 1:1‭-‬3 NIV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Those who do his will live with him eternally. Those who disobey will spend eternity separated from him. 

John 3:16‭-‬18 NIV For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

This portion of our knowledge of God’s will can be labeled his “ultimate will”, His “sovereign will”.


B. Now let’s look at God’s intentional or His intended will. 


God’s plan for our lives is determined by our choices. He gives us the right to say yes or no in the doing of his will.  We have free will. Not only do we choose whether we receive Christ as Savior and Lord, but we choose the degree of our development. God’s desire for us, His intention for us is that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.


1 Timothy 2:1‭-‬4 NIV I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.


2 Peter 3:8‭-‬9 NIV But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.


Furthermore, God wants his people to be sanctified or free of sin.


1 Thessalonians 4:3‭-‬8 NIV It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.


He intends that we know his will and do it. This knowledge of his will is called His “intentional will.”


C. Then there’s God’s permissive will. 


We can choose to disregard God’s will or to follow it. God permits events or circumstances to occur that may serve as discipline for us. Let me emphasize that God does not bring bad stuff, but He will permit it.


James 1:13‭-‬15 NIV When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.


Also, experiences or circumstances not of our own making work to test our faith. 


This is referred to as God’s “permissive will.”


We must be filled with the knowledge of these three categories of God’s will, His sovereign will,, His intended will, and His permissive will, so that we can avoid doctrinal compromise and strengthen our Christian walk.




II. Paul’s second prayer request was that the church function in the practice of God’s will “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”


Back to Colossians 1:9


Colossians 1:9 NIV For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,


The knowledge of God should always lead to “wisdom” or insight, that makes doing of his will our primary focus. That kind of knowledge also leads to “spiritual understanding,” or the ability to apply the principles we get from the word of God.

The result is that we “walk worthy of the Lord.” 

Colossians 1:10 NIV so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

Our conduct is not only freed from practices of wrongdoing but is filled with right doing. 

Romans 6:15‭-‬18 NIV What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Here’s an example.  A three-year-old boy was proudly wearing one of his father’s ribbons of honor.  The dad noticed it and said to his son, “What act of bravery did you perform to get that?” The little boy said, “I didn’t get into trouble for thirty minutes.” The  boy’s mother explained that she had offered the ribbon as a reward if the boy would stay out of the kitchen while she was cooking. So the father hugged his son and said, “Good job!” The boy put on his best smile and replied, “I’m a good boy; I stayed out of trouble.” 

But just staying out of trouble is not enough for those who seek and discover the knowledge of God’s will. We are to be guided by the truth of the knowledge of God's will as the way of life.

Many of the practices of God’s will do not seem to have a chapter and verse from the Bible as a point of reference. Our lives should reflect those biblical principles that express wisdom and spiritual understanding.

In my life, and I am sure that it was and is the same with many of you, I was confronted with some issues of right and wrong where I could not find a specific biblical reference.  What should I do? 

Well, here’s what I did.  I talked to some wise people that included my parents and grandparents and folk who were older than me, at the time, or who and been Christians for many years.  They gave me some questions to ask myself that have stayed with me, and I want to share them with you today along with some scripture.  


A. Will it bring glory to God? 


1 Corinthians 10:31‭-‬32 NIV So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—


Matthew 5:14‭-‬16 NIV “You  are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.


B. Will it lead into temptation?


Matthew 6:13 NIV And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. ’


Matthew 26:40‭-‬41 NIV Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”


James 1:12‭-‬15 NIV Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.


C. Will it enslave me? 


1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.



D. Will it defile my body?


1 Corinthians 6:18‭-‬19 NIV Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;



Galatians 5:19‭-‬23 NIV The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.



E. Will it damage my influence on others? 


Matthew 5:13 NIV “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.


Romans 14:21 NIV It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.


1 Corinthians 8:9‭-‬13 NIV Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.


F. Does it create doubt about doing the will of God in my life? 


Romans 14:22‭-‬23 NIV So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.


 If we seek the highest wisdom and spiritual understanding, we can know God’s will and practice it.

  

III. Paul’s third prayer request was that the church focus on fully pleasing the Lord by “being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”


Colossians 1:10 NIV so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,


We all like to please people and it is important, especially when we love them. Pleasing the Lord is even more important but doing so is difficult when there is competition between pleasing people and pleasing God.

We often talk about peer pressure on young people. Who can blame them for wanting to be acceptable to their friends and associates? 

Adults want to be acceptable too. So, there is the temptation to make compromises of Christian principles in the presence of pressure from employers and from friends, and often pressure from a spouse or family member. 

Seeking God’s guidance means striving to please God regardless of the cost to business, friendships, and even family relationships. It is the only way to increase knowledge of God.


Luke 9:57‭-‬62 NIV As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”


There’s a story about a young person that felt that God had called them to be a missionary. They were asked  “Why do you plan to go overseas when you could stay at home and be as useful here in pastoral ministry as you would be there?” He replied, “Because usefulness and place of service are not my highest priorities. God’s will for me is the most important issue in my life. I believe he wants me there.”

 

Conclusion


It is so easy to try and find our own way. One of the slogans of our culture is to “go your own way.” We make our own light and set our own path with innovative technology. We live in a culture entirely built around the concept that we can achieve, conquer, or heal anything

Isaiah 50:10‭-‬11 NLT Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God. But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.

The first step of discipleship to Jesus is recognition that we can’t go on our own. We learn we aren’t strong enough or smart enough to heal ourselves. This is the step we must take every day, over and over again. We sit in darkness and trust that the light of Jesus the Messiah will show us the way.

The commitment to seek God’s guidance is almost as important as seeking to be saved.  Paul prayed for it for a church troubled over its understanding of God’s will. We, too, need to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, function in the practice of his will, and focus on fully pleasing the Lord in doing his will. Perhaps the most important decision to be made in response to Paul's prayer is to decide to please him above all else. To do so will make you a disciple wanting to know his will and a servant desiring to obey his will.

 Colossians 1:9‭-‬10 NIV For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,


Sermon Audio





Sunday, October 3, 2021

Trusting God’s Guidance




This is the first sermon in a four sermon series "Finding and Following God's Guidance"

We cannot see into the future, and without God’s wisdom we will not completely understand today. We can expect that we will  encounter some complex and confusing turns in our lives that will test us and our deepest commitment. We will have hills to climb and bumpy roads. We often wonder how we will make it. 

Do we have any assurance that we can safely and successfully make it? 

Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NIV “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

God can guide us, but there are three conditions that determine his guidance.


  1. We must acknowledge Him

  2. We must trust Him

  3. And we can't depend on ourselves


For an audio recording of the sermon click the YouTube link at the end of the manuscript.


Scripture 

Proverbs 3:1‭-‬8 NIV My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.


Text: 

Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NIV “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Introduction


We cannot see into the future, and without God’s wisdom we will not completely understand today. We can expect that we will  encounter some complex and confusing turns in our lives that will test us and our deepest commitment. We will have hills to climb and bumpy roads. We often wonder how we will make it. 

Do we have any assurance that we can safely and successfully make it?   

Our text says we can make it—and make it victoriously if we will trust God’s guidance. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

In times like these today, we are in need of God’s guidance more than ever. 

Our text is an excellent battle cry for the testing times, a comfort and strength for our uncertainty. It is a road map we can use, even though we don't recognize the turns, the stops, the difficulties, or the pleasures ahead. 

Our text tells us that God can guide us in everything everyday.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

I. God can guide us in our everyday living.  In every decision, every action, in every development of our lives, God can and will direct our paths.


A. Let me give you an analogy that may help. When a highway is built and maintained two very important people are the highway road design engineer and the maintenance chief.  Both of these people can be visualized in the phrase  make “your paths straight”, or as the New King James translation says "direct your paths". 

Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NKJV  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

These two people, the highway road design engineer and the maintenance chief assure that we travel to a desired destination because the road is built and maintained, well sometimes maintained because we have some around here that aren’t maintained very well, but you get point.

The Hebrew language contains several words for road or path, including words that refer to a highway, a way, a narrow path, a broad path, a trodden path, and a usual or typical path or road that someone takes. 

The Hebrew word that`s used in Proverbs 3:6 is the one for the usual, or typical path or road that someone take from one place to another. 


To finish the analogy, God relates to us as the highway road design engineer and maintenance chief in the usual or day-to-day travels and events of our lives.


God designs and builds the road of life and keeps it useful. That is what is meant by the promise “He shall direct your paths.” We can get where we ought to be because God is available to prepare the way. He is active in all our affairs. We may not see the road builder and the maintenance chief during every mile traveled, but we do not travel anywhere without their help. This analogy, although pretty good, doesn't say enough.


B. God goes with us. 

Yes the road design engineer designs the road, and the maintenance chief sees that the road is maintained but they don’t get involved with us on a personal level.  God who can guide us, becomes personally involved with us on every inch of our journey. Here are just a few of His promises, 

Psalms 32:8 NIV I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Psalms 48:14 NIV For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.

Isaiah 58:11 NIV The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

John 16:13 NIV But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.




II. God can guide us, but there are three conditions that determine his guidance.


  1. We must acknowledge Him

  2. We must trust Him

  3. And we can't depend on ourselves


A. First we must acknowledge him. 


“In all thy ways acknowledge him.”  In all the steps of your journey, see that you acknowledge God as your guide. We have all had the experience of talking to someone who we knew well but who was preoccupied in thought or conversation and did not respond to us when we spoke to them. We either just smiled, spoke again, or did something to cause the person to acknowledge us or indicate that they heard us. We didn’t think we were being ignored we knew that they were just preoccupied.  


We could have spoken directly to them, but they were preoccupied and really didn’t hear a word that we said.  This person could have been a family member or a very close friend. 


If this can happen in our relationships with friends and family members, it can happen in God’s relationship with us. By our preoccupation with everything that is going on in our lives we may miss his guidance. 


So, if we want to have God’s guidance, have to pay attention to him with the sensitivity of a faith that is alive and expectant, and not just in special moments of devotion and prayer. In other words, all the time.  We are to acknowledge him in all our ways, in the days and the nights, at work and play, in rest or worship, when we are with others, and when we are alone.


We must acknowledge Him and seek His guidance  all the time


B. We must acknowledge God and we must trust him. 


Trust is the second condition of God’s guidance: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart.” We always seem to trust him in the hours of special need when there is no one else to trust but God. Or we trust him when we are called upon to do some unique assignment and we are not really sure about our ability to complete it. It's great that we trust him then but trusting God, like loving him, must be total and all the time.  


Let me give you an example. 


Think of two professing Christians, both of whom affirm their faith in Jesus Christ. One is stable and deals with adversity and changes so smoothly that to the casual observer it seems easy. The other Christian is insecure about almost everything. Any threatened difficulty creates a panic. If they make it through the difficulty it is by the slimmest of margins.  What’s the difference? The one with unwavering faith has sought and found God’s guidance. The other “double-minded” person is unstable because he does not acknowledge God in all his ways.


James 1:2‭-‬8 NKJV My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.


C. And the final condition that determines God's guidance is for us to not depend on ourselves. 


These first two conditions are positive. But the third can be a negative one.  “Lean not to thine own understanding.” The Revised Standard Version says, “Do not rely on your own insight.” The Living Bible says, “Don’t trust yourself.” This condition suggests the absolute inadequacy of life without God’s guidance. We really can’t make it on our life journey without him, and some people pay an unnecessarily high price to learn that self-management leads to endless defeat.


Here’s an example that we are all familiar with about a family who decided not to trust God and leaned on their own understanding. It is in Genesis,  the very first book of the  Bible. 


God promised Abraham a son.


Genesis 15:1‭-‬4 NIV After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”


Sarah Abraham’s wife after years of trying did not have a child so thinking she was helping God out of his dilemma of not being able to provide a child, utilized the surrogate custom of that time. She gave her servant, Hagar, to Abraham. and from that union Ishmael was born.


Genesis 16:1‭-‬4 NIV Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.


Now when God made the promise to Abram He ment that he and his wife Sarah would have a child.  How do we know?


Genesis 17:15‭-‬19 NIV God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.


In due time the child of promise, Isaac, was born to Sarah and Abraham. 


Genesis 21:1‭-‬3 NIV Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.


Remember what I read just a little bit ago that once she was pregnant Hagar began to despise Sarah. There was also friction between the two sons Ishmael and Isaac. 


Eventually hostility and jealousy between the two women and the two boys came to such a crisis that Hagar and Ishmael were sent away. 


Genesis 21:8‭-‬14 NIV The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.



This personal hostility escalated into national hatred and religious persecution between Arabs and Jews, Muslims and Christians. Here's the point: we only defeat ourselves and God’s purpose when we lean on our own understanding.

Conclusion


God wants to give us his guidance. He knows our need for it; he knows our failure without it. He has a unique plan for each of us, and he waits for us to pay attention to him, to trust him with our whole heart, and to reject our own abilities to guide ourselves. He can and will guide us when we trust him.

Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NIV “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Let's pray, 

Lord, many of us are waiting for an answer, an unmet need, or some indication of what our next step should be. You are the only One who sees the whole picture; help us believe and trust You as we keep waiting.

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