Okay, so we're studying the book of Genesis verse by verse, and we've come to chapter 24. Chapter 24 in the book of Genesis, I think, is one of the most precious chapters in all of maybe the whole Bible. It's romantic, but it also has tremendous biblical truth in it, and that's what we're going to talk about. You know, back 150 years ago, hymn writer Joseph Gilmore wrote these words. He leadeth me, O blessed thought, O words with heavenly comfort fraught, Whate'er I do, where'er I be.
Can't hit that one. Still tis God's hand that leadeth me. I'm going to keep my day job.
What do you think? Amen? All right. Now, this is what we're going to talk about today. We're going to talk about the fact that God loves you and me as followers of Christ so much that he has offered to personally lead us in every decision of our life.
And we're going to see that illustrated in spades here in Genesis 24. And then we're going to talk about, okay, so what difference does that make for us? Are you ready? Here we go. Loudon, Prince William, Bethesda, down in the edge, Internet. Here we go.
Ready? A little bit of background. Remember, after waiting 25 years, Abraham and Sarah finally had the child that God promised them, a son named Isaac. Isaac, as we pick up here in Genesis 24, is 37 years old, and his mom has just passed away, Sarah. And what we see next in this chapter, I think, is one of the sweetest stories in all of the Bible. So verse one, here we go. Abraham was now old, well advanced in years.
He was 140 years old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. And Abraham said to his servant, put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the Lord that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living. Why? Because these women didn't know the Lord. Why? Because these women, they didn't trust the Lord.
Why? Because these women didn't love the Lord, and they would leave the heart of Isaac, Abraham's son, astray. Verse four, but swear to me, Abraham said, that you will go back to my country, back to my kinsfolk, to get a wife for my son, Isaac. Now, let me show you where Abraham was sending his servant.
If you look on the map, you'll see down south, circled in yellow, that Abraham was living in Beersheba, but his family was living up in the Quran in northern Mesopotamia. That was a journey of hundreds of miles that he was sending his servant on to look for a wife for his son, Isaac. Then the servant asked, well, what if the woman's unwilling to come back with me to this land?
Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from? And Abraham said to him, see to it that you do not take my son back there, the Lord, the God of heaven, who took me out of my father's house and out of the land of my birth, he spoke to me and swore to me, saying to your descendants, I will give this land, the land of Canaan, he will send his angel before you to lead you to the right woman. Abraham did not want Isaac to leave Canaan because that would be an act of unbelief to the Lord.
The Lord said, this is your land, not back home. So the servant put his hand under Abraham's thigh and swore to him regarding this matter. Then the servant took 10 of his master's camels and departed and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nachor. Nachor was Abraham's brother.
That is the city of Haran that we just showed you on the map. And he made his camels kneel down near the well outside the town. And I love what happens next.
Oh, man, look at this. Then he prayed and he said, Oh, Lord, God of my master, Abraham, grant me success, I pray. Behold, I am standing by this well and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. Let the girl to whom I shall say, please let down your jar that I may have a drink. And she shall reply to me, drink.
And I will draw water for your camels also. Let her be the woman whom the Lord has. What's the next word? Say it loud. What's the word?
Chosen. Yeah, the King James Version says the woman that God has appointed for my master's son. So you understand what the servant did?
He threw out a fleece like Gideon in Judges six. And he said, Lord, if I say this to her and she says that to me and does this, then I'll know that's the woman. So before he was even done praying, behold, Rebekah, Nachor's granddaughter, Abraham's grandniece, came up with her water jar on her shoulder and she went down to the well and she filled her jar. Then the servant said to her, please give me a little water to drink from your jar. And she said, drink, my Lord. And when she finished giving him a drink, she said, and I'll draw water for your camels also until they are done drinking. So she emptied her jar into the trough and ran back to the well and drew water for all his camels.
Now, you should know that a camel who's gone two or three days in the desert without any water can consume between 20 and 25 gallons of water each. How many camels did the servant have? Ten.
Ten. This is like 200 gallons of water. And based on the size jars that we know the women used in that day, this would have meant almost 100 trips to the well back and forth to give all 10 camels their fill of water. You see, the point is that the servant had thrown out a fleece. He had chosen as a sign an extreme task to avoid any doubt that God was in the answer if she'd only had to go back once or maybe twice. That would have been one thing any person might have done that.
But 100 times. Are you kidding? Then the servant said to Rebecca, see, he doesn't know who she is yet. Tell me whose daughter you are. And she said, I am the granddaughter of Nakor, Abraham's brother. So not only did Rebecca meet the conditions of the servant's fleece, but now the servant also discovers for the first time that she's kin to Abraham as well. You say, wow, what a coincidence. Yeah, well, you know what? If you want to be spiritually cynical and believe that that's up to you, but that is not how Abraham's servant saw it at all.
Look what he did. Verse 26. Then the servant bowed his head and worshiped the Lord and said, blessed be the Lord who has what's the next two words led me to the house of my master's kinfolk. Now summarize what happens next. The servant goes back to Rebecca's house and meets her brother Laban and her father, Bethuel, not her grandfather, Nakor, Abraham's brother.
Apparently he had died by now. And the servant tells them this whole story and ends by saying to her father and her brother, then I bowed my head and I worshiped the Lord who had, say the next two words, led me to the right road that is to Rebecca. And when Laban and Bethuel heard this, they said, this thing comes from the Lord.
We can say nothing. Take Rebecca and go and let her become the wife of your master's son. Say these next words with me. Just as the Lord has directed.
Right. And they called Rebecca and said to her, will you go with this man? And she said, I will go. Then Rebecca and her maids arose and mounted the camels. And so the servant took Rebecca and went his way.
Now, here comes the end of the story. Isaac went out into the field one evening to meditate. And as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebecca also looked up and saw Isaac and she got down from her camel and asked the servant, who is that man in the field coming to meet us? And he said, it's my master. So she took her veil and covered herself.
Then the servant told Isaac all that had happened. So Isaac brought Rebecca into the tent and she became his wife and he loved her. I think that's romantic. Don't you think that's romantic?
Yeah, I do. She's the only wife he ever had in his whole life. And look how God put them together. God did the same thing to me and Brenda.
She was riding on a camel and I saw her. And that's how we met. All right, now, let's stop there and ask our most important question, shall we? So Loudon, Prince William, Bethesda, everybody down in the Edge community around the world, the Internet here, Tysons, here we go. Come on.
Nice and loud. One, two, three. Right. Now, you say, Lon, you know, it is kind of a romantic story here, how God led them together. But, you know, I don't see what it has to do with my life. Well, let's get the bottom line of the story. The bottom line of the story is that here in Genesis 24, we see that God had a specific woman picked out for Isaac and a specific man picked out for Rebekah. That's why she went with the servant because just like her brother and just like her father, she was convinced that God had made his will clear for her life as well. Now, there are many preachers around today and many Christian writers around today and many so-called Christian scholars around today who will tell you that this is not so.
They will tell you that God does not have a specific will about who we marry, about what college we go to, about what car we buy, about what job we take, about the house we buy or rent, about whether we enter the ministry or we enter as a missionary or what volunteer ministry we take. So don't pray for God to lead you to Mr. Right. There's no such thing. Don't pray for God to lead you to Ms.
Right. There's no such person. Don't pray for God to show you what's just the right house for you to live in and purchase. There's no such thing. Don't pray for God to guide you to the right job. There's no such thing.
These things simply don't exist. Now, I want to say to you as your pastor, I want to say to you that this is biblical baloney. You understand? We just saw God lead that servant in Genesis 24 right to Rebekah. He believed it, she believed it, Isaac believed it, her brother believed it, her father believed it, Abraham believed it.
They all said, this is the woman God's picked out for you. And folks, this is not the only place in the Bible where we see God leading people like this. In 1 Samuel chapter 30, David was away on a raid and when he returned to his village, some enemies had come and carried off to all these men's wives and all their children and all their possessions. And what did David say? David said, get your spears, man. We're going after them. Come on.
No, no, no. The Bible says that David turned to the Lord and said, Lord, should I pursue them? Then the Lord said, pursue them and you will surely overtake them and surely rescue them. The point is that David believed that God had a specific will for this specific situation and David wanted to know what it was before he did anything.
And how about the Lord Jesus? The Bible says, Luke chapter 6, that at that time, Jesus went out to the hills to pray and he continued in prayer to God all night. And when it was day, he called the disciples to him and he chose 12 of them who he named as apostles. Folks, why did Jesus go out and spend all night praying? Well, the answer is because he believed that God had a specific will about who those 12 apostles should be and Jesus wanted to seek it and know it before he appointed them. He just didn't walk around going, yeah, yeah, definitely not you.
Yeah, yeah, no. He went and said, God, you tell me your will on this. And what about these verses of Scripture? God says, I will instruct you, Psalm 32, and teach you in the way you should go. In Isaiah chapter 30, God says, you shall hear a voice behind you saying, this is the way, walk ye in it. David prayed Psalm 31, for thy name's sake, lead me and guide me. Friends, these verses and many others like them make no sense at all if God has no specific will for the details of our life. So don't you dare hesitate to pray for Mr. Wright. Don't you dare hesitate to pray for Ms. Wright. Don't you dare hesitate for God to lead you to the right house or to the right job or to the right ministry. Listen, God is a personal God who is personally involved in the personal details of our personal life.
You got it? Amen. I'm going to repeat that. God is a personal God who is personally involved in the personal details of our personal life and thank God for that.
Now you say, all right, Lon, I understand what you're saying, but so what? I mean, let's say God wasn't involved in my life. Let's say he didn't have a will for the details of my life. Then so how, why would that be a problem? What's the problem with that? Well, there are five problems with that.
I give them to you very quickly and we're done. Problem number one, if God has no specific will for the details of our life, then number one, it cheapens God's role in my life. It removes God from being personally engaged in the affairs of my life and it relegates him to being an absentee savior. This is what the deists believe. They believe God put things in motion and then he disappears and says, well, let all the details take care of themselves. I don't get involved in that. Friends, God didn't save you and then pat you on the bottom and say, all right, I'll see you again in heaven.
Good luck out there. This is not our God. This is not the God of the Bible. Number two, if God doesn't have a specific will for the details of our life, then it promotes reliance on self in our lives instead of reliance on God. Proverbs three, verse five says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. But if God doesn't have a specific will about the details of our life, then we've got to decide what to do about those details in our own understanding. We have to rely on our own understanding. And that means we're doing exactly what Proverbs three, verse five tells us not to do.
Number three, if God has no specific will for the details of our life, then number three, it leaves me open to making some horrible decisions and choices in life. Proverbs twenty eight, verse twenty six says, He who trusts in himself is a what? Is a fool. Friends, if God's not going to lead us through the details of life, who else do we have to trust but ourselves? God says that's what a fool does.
I'm not going to leave my children and make them fools. I got to tell you, when I was age twenty two, just before I came to Christ, I'd been leading my own life, guiding my own life for twenty two years. And I had made a complete and utter mess out of my life. In fact, that's one of the reasons I came to Christ, because I knew if I went back and started all over again, that I wasn't going to do any better. I knew I wasn't capable of leading my life. I knew I wasn't capable of guiding my own life.
And I was looking for someone to help me. Hey, praise God for the Lord Jesus coming into my life. Let me tell you, every time I lead my life, I live to regret it. But every time I get on my face and seek the Lord and let the Lord lead my life, I live to appreciate it. And if you're here and you've never trusted Jesus in a real and personal way and you've been leading your own life and you've made a mess out of it, that's OK.
I was there. I'm here to tell you the great news of the Bible is you don't have to keep doing that. That you can give your life to Jesus and he'll be the voice behind you saying, this is the way, walk in it. And when he tells you to walk in a given way, friends, there ain't no alligators on that way.
You with me? So I hope you'll think about that. Number four, if God doesn't have a specific will for our life, then it discourages me from seeking the Lord and waiting on the Lord in prayer. Now, finding God's will is not the only reason that we should seek the Lord in prayer, but it's a major reason.
It's an important reason. And if there is no will of God to discover about the details of my life, then, folks, why should I labor in prayer to seek it? And finally, if there is no specific will of God for my life, then it robs me of the spiritual confidence I need to stay faithful to God in the tough times of life. Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China mid 1800s, that guy suffered more opposition and more hardship than anybody you could ever imagine.
Any normal person would have given up five times already. But he, as a young man, had a meeting with God and himself on his knees where he was absolutely certain that God had called him to China. And here's what he said, and I quote, he said, It is no small comfort to me to know that God has... What's the next word? Specifically, say it again, specifically, God has specifically called me to this work, and therefore I dare not leave it. Look, as followers of Christ, we all run into hard times when we're tempted to quit, when we're tempted to throw in the towel, when we're tempted to give up. In those times, what we need as followers of Christ more than anything else in order to stick it out is this confidence that we are where we are because Jesus Christ personally and specifically put us where we are.
And therefore, since he put us there, as Hudson Taylor said, we dare not leave it. If you prayed and sought God and he led you to a specific job, I don't care how hard it gets. You dare not leave that job. If you prayed and asked God to lead you to a specific ministry of serving him, I don't care how hard it gets, you dare not leave that ministry. If you prayed and asked God to lead you to a specific location and he put you somewhere, I don't care whether you like it there or not. You dare not leave it.
Friends, listen. You and I in those situations need to go to God, and we need to trust God, and we need to ask God for strength, and we need to stay where Jesus put us. And this is how Moses stuck it out with the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. He knew God put him there, and that's why he stayed.
And this is why Jesus stayed on the cross, because he knew that God the Father had put him there, and that's why he didn't come down off the cross. And friends, this is how I've stuck it out 35 years at McLean Bible Church, and 40 years of being married, and 45 years of being in full-time ministry, and 22 years of caring for a little girl with severe disabilities, because in the roughest of times, I was able to say, this is God's specific will for my life. This is where God has put me, and I will not leave.
By the grace of God, I will not leave until Jesus leads me away. Praise the Lord, huh? That's how we have to live. Now remember, people hurt us, people wound us.
Things are hard. We may not like where God has put us, but folks, that does not mean that you are out of God's will. In fact, often it means just the opposite. Often it means you're right in the center of God's will, and that God put you and me there to work on us, to work on things in our life. Don't you dare leave just because you feel like it. Don't you dare leave just because you don't want to be there. Folks, you stay put until you are able to look people in the eye and say, I am so sure God is moving me. God, that if I stay put, I will be out of the will of God. Until you can say that, you stay put.
So let's conclude. As followers of Christ, God wants us to know with utter certainty that He has a specific will for every part of our life, and that He will lead us to that will if we will just let Him. We do not have to navigate this life by ourselves. You say, but Lon, I've been seeking the Lord, and I've been waiting on the Lord, and I've been asking the Lord what to do, and He hasn't told me yet. And you don't know how frustrating that is. What are you talking about? Of course I know how frustrating that is.
You know, I want everything done yesterday. Of course I know that. You say, well, then why would God stretch me out and do something that mean and cruel to me? Oh, my friend, you don't get it.
You don't get it. Sometimes the reason God makes us seek Him and wait on Him is because He wants to know how serious we really are about doing His will and not our will. Or sometimes we're all set up and ready to go, but He's got to get some other things in line. And so He says, just stay here, I'll be back.
And He's out there doing the rest of what He has to do to match it up. Folks, I don't know all the reasons God hesitates. I don't know all the reasons God makes us wait.
I get as frustrated about it as you do. But I know this, that until I'm clear on what God wants me to do, the best thing for me to do is simply do nothing and wait. Anything else is my wisdom. Anything else is my understanding. Anything else is my self-reliance.
And I told you where that ends up with me getting in a lot of trouble. So if God's making you wait, wait. If God's stretching you out and making you seek Him harder, fine.
This is normal. This is all part of God teaching us to value His will above our will. You with me? Amen?
Got it? Okay. Now next week we're gonna talk about how do we discern God's will. I mean if I'm looking in searching and I've got a decision to make, how can I tell when the Lord's leading me and how can I tell when it's me leading me? We're gonna talk about that next week. Hope we'll see you then. Let's pray. Lord Jesus, thank you for the blessed thought that you lead us. Lord, you could have been a deist, God, who just saved us and said, see you in heaven.
But that's not you. And I thank you so much that when we come to you and ask for your aid, ask for your guidance, that you are anxious to be personally involved in our life, that you will do great and mighty things for us that we know not, that as Ephesians 3 says, you will do things beyond what we could even imagine. But we've got to come seek you, Lord, and we've got to prove to you that we want your will more than our own. So teach us that discipline.
Teach us to be okay with that discipline. For those of us who are waiting on you now for some area of our life, and most of us here are, and getting frustrated and we don't understand, God just remind us that there will come a day where the clouds will part and it'll be clear as a bell and we will be so glad we waited. So encourage our hearts today, Lord.
Restore hope to our lives if we've gotten discouraged. And once again, thank you that you lead us. May we always look to that leading instead of our own. And we pray this in Jesus' name. And God's people said, Amen. you
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