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A Misdirected Faith Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 16, 2022 1:10 am

A Misdirected Faith Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 16, 2022 1:10 am

Sometimes, we try to engineer circumstances to bring God’s will to pass. In the face of childlessness, Abraham and Sarah were faced with a decision—one of desperation, frustration, and opportunity. In this message, we walk through the sequence of events that led to conflict in his family. The immediate consequences were devastating. 

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Looking to Jesus phoned her sometimes try to engineer circumstances to bring God's will Abraham do that when God promised him numberless offspring since his wife was past childbearing. He slept with their Egyptian maid Hagar. The result present is really, the church in Chicago this is running to win with Dr. Sir clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastoralists are clearly the consequences of Abraham trying to make sure he had an air were historic but was it God's intention for this choice to be made debut last a very difficult question. Let me talk about the will of God and distinguish two ways in which it is used in Scripture. On the one hand, the revealed will of God. Clearly, Abraham violated that he send on the other hand we discover in Scripture that the will of God encompasses everything that God intends to do. He runs all things after the counsel of his own will. So Abraham's disobedience had long-term consequences. But even here, God's grace and his mercy is displayed in the offspring. So let's keep in mind that God is able to take our mistakes and to make them a part of his plan. That was a long explanation, but we must understand that God's purposes are oftentimes hidden, but in the midst of it all. He continues to work. I want you to know that this sermon series. Strength for the journey is available in permanent form.

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It can be yours. Here's what you do go to RTW or call us at 1-888-218-9337. The apostle Peter in the New Testament, in the presence of Jesus that these words he said, Lord, I believe, help about all mine unbelief what Peter said in those words are first of all, it is possible for faith and doubt to coexist in the same person even while we believe it is possible for us to doubt we've all been there have been away. Secondly, by implication, what Peter is saying is that it is possible for believers to make decisions and to act in ways that sometimes betray their doubts today are messages about decisions, good decisions, bad decisions, decisions that we have made decisions that other people have made for us. That may be good or bad in the whole business of the need to seek God in making those decisions. Abraham is our example here. Chapter 15 of the book of Genesis, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness. Chapter 16 Abraham is wondering downloading God.

The story is very interesting and instructive than if you have your Bibles please turn to the 16th chapter of the book of Genesis, because in order for us to understand the context we need to paint the picture God had said to Abraham. Abraham I'm giving you this land and it is for you and it is for your offspring eternally. I'm giving you the land forever.

When I was fine, but the question was how is he going to have offspring. Abraham was getting very old and Sarah was already beyond the point where she could really bear a child and so he and Sarah were obsessed by this question. How is God going to do it. We believe that we've heard him correctly, but the problem is we can't see how this can happen so in chapter 15 Abraham says to God when they're having a discussion he says what about Eliezer of Damascus, he could be my heir and that was in keeping with custom the couple was childless, it was possible for them to take the steward of their house.

The one who had most responsibility one who represented them well and to say that you're going to be my heir.

God says no Abraham you're wrong. Someone who actually comes from your own body your own assignment is going to be the air all right but but God did not say at this point was that the air was going to come through Sarah so that sets us up now for the 16th chapter of the book of Genesis were Abraham is taking another step on the interesting journey of faith. 16th chapter of Genesis and first of all, were going to walk through the sequence of events and then were going to talk about decisions and what this passage really does have to say to us today and the need that we have to listen to the lessons that it has.

Let's walk through the sequence of events. First of all, in verses 1 to 4. You have what we could call a desperate decision, a desperate decision. I'm reading the text. Now Sarah, Abraham's wife had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant named Hagar and Sarah said to Abraham, behold now the Lord has prevented me from bearing children go into my servant, it may be that I shall obtain children by her. And Abraham listened to the voice of Sarah so after Abraham had lived in the land 10 years, Sarah, Abraham's wife took Hagar the Egyptian her servant and gave her to Abraham. Her husband is a wife while childlessness in those days was considered such a curse, that there was a common custom which was very accepted in that society that if a woman couldn't bear a child. She could designate as servant and give that servant to her husband and when that baby was born. It would be regarded as hers. What are the elements that went into this decision that Abraham made and Sarah, what are the elements. First of all time. Time their body clocks were taking and was getting too late for them to have children. Sarah apparently already had passed that point Abraham was on the verge of no longer being able to father a child. So time was was very, very important here. If God was going to do something. The second was frustration. You'll notice what Sarah says behold, the Lord verse two has prevented me from bearing children and she was right.

God does have these things under his control, but at the same time, you can almost sense the frustration here is God who gives us a promise and all that we have is the promise we don't have a son. So God where are you I mean if you're the God that promises wired to the God that does.

And so she's saying it's God's fault gives this hope, but he doesn't come through, so there is that frustration, the promise was not complete. It was a little bit ambiguous when God spoke to Abraham in the previous chapter.

He said that this person who is going to be your heir will come from you, but God did not say that Sarah was to be the mother of the child or needed to be and then something else went into the decision and that was opportunity culture said that it was okay to do it this way and we are going to go with culture rather than God's word. We can't wait for God, we have to help God out, and culture has found a way so it Sarah's idea and she says Abraham do this, we don't know whether he did it eagerly.

But at any rate. Her husband did what she suggested and the text tells us this now Abraham will listen to the voice of Sarah last part of verse two. How we wish that the text would read and Abraham listened to the boys of God he didn't. He went with what Sarah had proposed. He was on the verge of a decision that would have implications that he could not possibly have understood implications for 4000 years.

A decision was being made. On Tuesday I was sitting in the barbershop.

Got a haircut might not have noticed but I did while I was waiting I picked up a copy of the Chicago Tribune read an article on page 5 or six that has to do with the Abraham make decision found in this chapter. While the whole question of who inherits the promises and is at the Israelis because of their heritage through Isaac or is that the Arabs largely Muslim, who believe that they should inherit the promises because of Ishmael, all bad happening in Israel today because of the decision that Abraham is about to make any listens to his wife, rather than God. So that's the desperate decision. What's the consequences. Here were talking about short-term consequences. You'll notice that the text says that they have an argument in the home because Hagar conceived and when she saw that she had conceived. She looked with contempt on her mistress Hagar thought that she was superior to Sarah because after all, Hagar was bearing a child and children were highly prized, so now she looks on contempt for Sarah. You can almost hear it in the kitchen can't yet nine then then then I'm having a baby and you're not how to Sarah reacted as she reacts with anger. You'll notice it says in verse five Sarah said to Abraham made a wrong done to me beyond you. I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived.

She looked on me with contempt.

May the Lord judge between you and me waited a moment.

Sarah not so fast.

Not so fast. Whose idea was this anyway is not interesting in human nature. We want to take credit for all the things that work out that are successful and then we love to blame people for decisions that we make that turn out to be wrong decisions.

Success has many fathers failure is an orphan. When there's failure. You can find to cause that. But if you are successful. We got all kinds of people lined up to take credit so that's Sarah. She's frustrated she's angry she's the one who made the decision, but she's blaming Abraham for the results. Now Abraham doesn't come off too well here either because you'll notice he says in verse six, behold, your servant is in your power due to her as you please wait a moment Abraham I know that what he's trying to say is that Hagar is your servant and you have responsibility for. I think there's something else going on here in the text. I think he's abdicating his responsibility as the head of his own, should've stepped in and said now I know that we have a problem, but this is what we should do to bring peace to this situation. We think that Abraham would step to the plate but he simply saying due to her whatever you want to do.

She said all right, since you're giving me that permission.

The text says that she dealt harshly with I was a bad response.

There is a different way to take care of Hagar then to deal harshly, but Sarah is angry and frustrated and she made it very very hard for this made and the Bible says that Hagar then fled from her and went into the desert. I've often thought what was said Hagar thinking anyway what was going through her mind. Does she think that she could survive in the desert. The desert is relentless. The desert is cruel. There is very little water in the desert. There is very little food in the desert how the world that she expect to live. Maybe she went into the desert, hoping she could return to Egypt silly decision impossible decision because she would be the prey for animals as well as marauders, then there's no way that she donated to Egypt on her own. Maybe it was even an attempt to commit suicide. I'm going to go into the desert. I'm going to be there and I'm going to die. I'm rejected by this couple even though the husband is the father of my child and what I'm going to do is to simply end it all because I can't take it anymore with those of the immediate consequences. But now in the midst of this, there is God's intervention, God comes on the scene and we read these words in verse seven the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness.

The spring on the way to shore the angel of the Lord Jesus, we learned before. And if we had time today I'd prove it again.

That whenever you have a reference to the angel of the Lord not an angel of the Lord angel of the Lord were talking about the second person of the Trinity because the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is spoken of as both being the Lord as well as being distinct from the Lord God and the only person who could possibly be God and yet not be the father is Jesus. And so Jesus made many appearances on this earth.

He was a guest on this earth before he came in flesh in Bethlehem. So what does he do.

He asks this woman. He finds her don't you like the way in which the Bible puts it is not because he was looking for her and she was lost but the angel of the Lord shows up and says Hagar servant of Sarah, where have you come from and where are you going, once again, doesn't ask the question in order to learn new information, but the angel wants Hagar to do the speaking, to let him know and she can say it on her own something like in the Old Testament were goddesses Adam where are you, not because God's is looking at your hiding among the trees and I can't find you what God wants Adam to do is to tell me where you are admit where you are. Admit your need. Tell me what's going on in your life. And then we can dialogue so the angel says, where have you come from, where are you going and may I say maybe that's what Jesus is asking you to do.

I don't know who you are today visitor somebody was attended for a while.

Somebody's trying to find their way in life. Life gets very harsh. Jesus comes to us today and says review come from and where do you think you're going tell me and then very graciously. This angel gives a command and also some consolation.

He gives a promise. Speaking to her, he says. First of all, the command return to your mistress and submit to her. You stay out here.

You're going to die in this wilderness. There is no hope that you're going to survive.

Life is tough back there. But if you go back and if you act differently. I'm sure that that's implied and you begin to submit yourself. In fact that's what the text says submit to Sarah. She's going to treat you better, it's time for you to knuckle under. You can't run from your problems.

You can think to yourself that you can make it on your own and the way to get out of this is to escape. No, no, no, go back and live differently. Tell Sarah Sarah I'm going to be submissive to you. The arguments are going to end. That's his first command and notice what he also does is he gives this promise. He says behold you are pregnant and you shall bear a son, and you shall call his name Ishmael, Ishmael means the Lord hears the Lord hears is essentially the same meaning as the word Samuel the Lord hears God heard you in the midst of your misery. God heard you there in the desert and so you name this boy that you're going to have: Ishmael and then you'll notice also and I happen to skip. Not intentionally but unintentionally. In verse 10, the angel of the Lord is said to her I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude while she's going to have the same promises Abraham. God says Abraham you won't be able to number your seed goddesses to Hagar as a result of bearing Ishmael, you will not be able to number your seed in the promises superficially appear alike and at this point they are alike.

Of course they are going to have major differences but that's another story.

So he says you're going to be blessed and then you'll notice it says that this child verse 12 will be a while donkey of a man his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsman, probably a reference to the nomads the difficult life that is going to be lived in the desert and also the restlessness of the Ishmaelites and the Ishmaelites will be in conflict there is going to be disagreement with their kinsman, particularly with her cousins with their brothers and so God says this is the kind of people that there will be and in the midst of the experience.

You'll notice it says that Hagar verse 13 called the name of the Lord who spoke to her you are a God of seeing, for she said, truly, I have seen him who looks after me there for the well was called Birla hi Roy it lies between K dish and Bered. She says God you see me you heard me, that's Ishmael meaning of the word, you heard me, and now it's very clear that you are actually seeing me in my need and in my distress, my friend, this is Pastor Luther and my heart goes out to you, especially to those of you who feel rejected, neglected, perhaps you were conceived out of marriage and you feel therefore that you should not even be alive. Keep this story in mind, Hagar was cast out of the house. She had a baby, but God was there. Seeing her and God sees you to have you been blessed as a result of this series of messages. If you have we're making it available in permanent form.

Here's what you can do for a gift of any amount. It can be yours.

You can play them again and again go to RTW or call us at 1-888-218-9337. The series of messages is called strength for the journey and as you heard just a moment ago.

As we talked about Abraham and Hagar and Sarah. It's a series of messages intended to help you to inform you and to encourage you go to the phone right now: 1-888-218-9337 it's time again for you to ask Pastor looks her a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Becoming a Christian can pose some real dilemmas such as what to do with your old life. Mike wrote to us with this story and this question. I have a brother who just became a Christian is a professional gambler and makes his living by betting on sports. He has a wife and two kids.

He doesn't have any other training and just started tithing his earnings is my brother living a life of sin by being a professional sports better.

Mike, I think the answer to your very last question is yes because I don't think betting on professional sports is legal.

I would say that even if it was legal. I still think it's wrong. In other many things that are legal but are still not right. But at the same time I have to smile because it's clear that your brother seems to have received the Lord because he is now tithing on his earnings and that is a very very good sign.

I think what you need to do is to give him some advice, but also give him some time because you say that he is a new Christian, give him some time to process what happened and I believe that the Lord is going to show him that to be totally dedicated to the Lord. He needs to find a different vocation and I hope that he does and I hope that you are there with him.

I know that you say that he doesn't have any other training but never underestimate God's ability to help those who want to do the right thing. Pray for him.

Help him and I'm optimistic that he's going to make some good and wise decisions on his journey all the way home on behalf of your brother Mike, thank you for your question.

If you'd like to hear your question answered. You can just go to our and click on ask Pastor Luther or call us at 1-888-218-9337 that's 1-888-218-9337 you can write to us at running to win 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 zero is ideal for Abraham to father promised, here are made as backfired. Hagar runs away to escape the torment, only to find comfort from an unexpected place.

Next time I'm running to win will see how God shows his grace even when his servants go their own way. Thanks for listening, Dr. Erwin lutes are this is Dave Callister running to win is sponsored by the church

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