Closer

Abe, like so many others, struggled with waiting on God. Then at Sarai’s suggestion of Sarai, he decides to mix-in by taking Hagar as his wife. She will soon conceive and bear a son, Ishmael, God hears. Stress, it is constantly building and peace seems as far away as Egypt. Problems plague Abe and his family to this day, all stemming from these decisions. 86 years old when Ishmael is born, and Abe will not hear from God again until he is 99 years old. Genesis 17:1~When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, (ESV) When Abe goes ahead of God, what he finds is silent thirteen years of deafening silence. 

Reading this reminded me of the psalmist’s words in Psalm 28:1~I pray to you, O Lord, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die. (NLT) This is surely what Abe must have felt as the years, a whole baker’s dozen passed in his life. In our life when God is silent, it feels like the pits have become our dwelling place. I fear the greatest cost of getting ahead of God’s purpose for our lives is His hallowed and awesome silence. However, because God is the God of love and grace, Abe will begin to get back on track as he draws Closer: where we discover three principles for getting Closer to God: Unwilling, Completely, Believe.



Trust God

Back to our pericope where Hagar applies these Biblical principles. Genesis 16:13~Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me (אֵל ‘el רֳאִי ro’iy).” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” (NLT) (אֵל ‘el רֳאִי ro’iy) the God who sees. Have you ever wondered if God truly saw you say you in life, in the marriage, moment, struggle? God are you there, this situation feels untenable, I’m ready to run. This is the moment when all of Life, we’ve been pushing it away, ignoring, and avoiding it all comes home to roost. When we’re at the end of our rope But God: we need to hold on, Wait, just a little longer, take a breathe and Divulge our heart to God, Conform to the will of the Lord, and Stand.

Stand on His promises (Genesis 16:10-16). The angel of the LORD tells Hagar, return and see. Genesis 16:10~Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.” (ESV) Genesis 16:11~“You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord, has heard your cry of distress. (NIV) I like it, a name with real substance, oh that God would hear us. His name is a reminder that God is always available to hear us. Psalm 116:2~I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” (NIV) Like David and Hagar, I’m going to stand with God, are you?

I know Ismael is going to be a wild one, and many of you have raised a wild one and took a lot of prayers. Where you labored before the Lord and had to stand God’s promises. Hagar know that El Roi, God sees you, He sees your future son, and the life He has planned for you. I do not know where you are on your journey through life and faith, but I do know that God sees you! So, I remind you, do not get ahead of God, or you will be layering more problems in your life. Abe and Sarai’s shortsightedness will cause a sibling rivalry still affecting the middle east. To commemorate her great spiritual experience, with the God Hagar calls the well (בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִי Bĕ’er la-Chay Ro’iy) [be-air’-la-hi-ro-ee] (16:14), which means the well of Him who lives and sees me. After returning to Abe and Sarai, she gives birth. Abe’s apparently aware of Hagar’s experience because in Genesis 16:15~So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael. (ESV) Yes, a son, but not the child of promise. 

Our Takeaway: Trust in God’s plan, and if you find yourself at the end of your rope: in your marriage, or family, in your career or finances, perhaps you have a prodigal child, and are contemplating getting ahead of God, I want you to remember this story and the words of Isaiah 58:11~The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. (NIV).



Kingdom Authority

As believers, we must respect human authority—from the classroom to stateroom, from local authorities to the President of the United States Moreover, we must teach our children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews to do the same. Romans 13:1~Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (NIV) Without respect for those in authority, our world would be nothing more than anarchy and chaos. To hear some people talk today, I cringe at the language they use with or in front, of their children. As believers, we ought to be better examples of 1 Peter 2:17~Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. (NIV)

Thank you Pastor D, that’s exactly what I’ve been looking for and think about Emperor Trump! First, take a second to gather a good breathe and relax. Then answer me this, do you pray each day that President Trump would listen to God and live a godly life? That as he lives for the Lord he will follow God’s leading and if not, why? Are you being respectful of God’s leader? Paul and Peter are not just playing church. We all must be submissive to someone and if we struggle with people, how much more are we going to struggle with God? Listen to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as Paul writes in Ephesians 5:21~Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (NIV)

Romans 12:2 says do not let the world squeeze you into its mold. That word squeeze is (συσχηματίζω syschēmatizō). (JBP) If we’re not careful we will be squeezed by the world around us into conforming after them. When what God desires is that we conform to His image. That word is not (συσχηματίζω syschēmatizō) it is (σύμμορφος symmorphos) and we read it in Romans 8:29~For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (NIV) (σύμμορφος symmorphos) is being remade in the image of Jesus Christ. So, what we discover is humanities struggle with how to be molded, shaped, or conformed. Are we going to act in our own interest Abe, Sarai, Hagar, where we run from problems? They will only grow, fester and in the end cost us more. Or, do we allow God to work on, in, and through us as we conform to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ?