Summary: How to Overcome Provocation as Isaac Did (Godliness is profitable for all things, even an antidote to over-reacting to provocations)
How to Overcome Provocation as Isaac Did - Gen 26:1-35
Intro - How should we respond we were are bullied?
As children we all encountered a bully and learned that it is better to avoid a fight and to overcome opposition with kindness, wisdom and friendliness.
Illustration:On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription: "James Butler Bonham--no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom." No literal portrait of Jesus exists either. But the likeness of the Son who makes us free can be seen in the lives of His true followers.
Illustration: I remember one bully name Steven who picked on me when I was small. I needed to learn the importance of the truth, "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good." (Rom. 12:21) Only when I could overcome with love, blessings and intelligence could I find a way to be bigger than the problem instead of succumbing to it. Isaac learned this lesson when he was provoked as well.
In similar ways Isaac experiences severe harassment from the Philistines who envy him for his prosperity. God gave Isaac extraordinary wisdom since He knew that unless the Lord fights the battles for us we are doomed to failure. James also reminded us about how to settle conflicts when he wrote, "What is the source of conflicts and quarrels, is it not your own desires that wage war in your members? YOu lust and do not have so you fight and quarrel. (James 4:1-4)
Let us look at some of the key guidelines for overcoming evil provocation from the life of Isaac:
1. God honored Isaac because of His wonderful love and faithfulness to His promise. Isaac acknowledged that fact that everything he had came from God’s almighty hand. When we are grateful we are less apt to grow angry and over-react to provocation.
2. Isaac showed us how to deny ourselves and our rights and conveniences rather than quarreling with his enemies. Isaac chose to live in obscurity rather to live in a place where he was constantly badgered by men of envy, scorn and jealousy.
We can find comfort in the fact that God sometimes leads us out of arenas of temptation when it is necessary to maintain our testimony.
3. Isaac opened up wells that his father had dug and even called them by the same names as a sign of respect to his father and his father’s God. When people trust and obey the Lord they can expect to enjoy an inner sense of satisfaction that transcends any earthly reward.
The Lord facilitated all of Isaac’s farming by multiplying his crops a hundredfold. All of this came at a time when everyone else suffered through a terrible famine. The Lord provided Isaac with many willing servants to assist in his work that he employed and maintained.
Godly people can enjoy sweet fulfillment from the bread of God’s word and the rivers of life supplied by the HOly Spirit who quenches all thirsty souls. Those who fail to grow in Christ deprive themselves of many heavnely blessings and the ability to be a teflon person in times of provocation.
4. Isaac busied himself in ordering his servants to dig new wells. It is not enough to simply rely on what our forefathers of the faith have done for us. The Lord wants us to press on to accomplish innovations for the benefit of multiplying his kingdom’s sphere of influence.
We must learn to expect opposition from many who resist change or misunderstand our motives. Isaac even acknowledged the opposition by naming the first two new wells, Esek and Sitnah which mean contention and hatred. Do not be in a state of denial. Cast all of your care on the Lord and He will sustain you.
Ask others to pray for you as well and the prayers of the righteous will avail much.
5. Isaac knew that it was impossible for the godly to live without persecution. Paul wrote, "All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." Believe that the Lord will use adversity for your good . He is able to utilize the hate that we will get from the world, the flesh and the devil for His greater good in many ways. Rom. 8:28.
Thank God ahead of time that His ways are higher than your ways and His thoughts than your thoughts. He is able to sovereignly work through a host of suffering to bring you to a better place by closing some doors so other doors will open to greater plateaus of service and fruitfulness.