Summary: We need to learn to follow God and not expect Him to follow us.
Just Get Out of the Way
Text: Gen. 16:1-16
1. Illustration: Some of us are like the preacher who was on a diet and prayed as he drove to work- "Now, Lord if it is your Will for me not to have any donuts this morning You make sure there are no parking places in front of the donut shop." And he later said, "I ate the donuts because there were two places right up front on only my 8th trip around the block." We need to make sure we don’t play the game of making God’s guidance fit what we want rather than seeing if what we want actually fits His plans.
2. Sometimes we think that God needs our help and that we have a better plan than He does. However, every time we get in the way we make a mess of things.
3. We need to realize that...
a. God Doesn't Need Our Help
b. God's Plans Always Work Out Better
c. God Sees What We Cannot
4. Read Genesis 16:1-16
Proposition: We need to learn to follow God and not expect Him to follow us.
Transition: One of the greatest lessons we need to learn is...
I. God Doesn't Need Our Help (1-3).
A. Perhaps I Can Have Children Through Her
1. One of the greatest detriments to experiencing the blessings of God is impatience.
a. We want what we want when we want it.
b. We live in an impatient society that wants immediate gratification.
c. We tap our feet and drum our fingers waiting on the microwave.
d. We complain when our fast food isn't!
e. We can do the same thing with God. If we don't get what we asked for immediately we try and fix it for God.
2. This was the case with Sarai and Abram. Our text begins with, "Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar."
a. Sarai was now 75 and was blaming God because she had no children.
b. In their culture a woman's main purpose was to bear children, and so being childless was a big issue that carried a stigma with it.
c. In fact, the common belief was that it was seen as a punishment from the Lord.
3. So Sarai becomes impatient with God's plan and comes up with one of her own. She tells Abram, “The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal."
a. This seems like a strange option because our society does not consider it to be appropriate.
b. However, in the ancient world it was not only acceptable but even dictated by marriage contracts.
c. This practice continued even after the Israelites left Egypt in the time of Moses, and would have been familiar to the original audience (Walton, NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, 445-446).
d. Hagar was probably a slave that Sarai acquired while in Egypt.
e. She decided that through Hagar she could give Abram a son who would legally belong to Sarai.
f. Abram agreed, and his motive was probably good, but he was too influenced by his culture and tried to help God through worldly means (Horton, 131).
g. There is an interesting parallel here between this account and the one of the fall of Adam and Eve.
h. In both cases, the husband attempts to please his wife rather than doing the right thing. Living by faith would have taken them a different way (Ross, 319).
4. So Sarai and Abram, as a result of their impatience, put their plan to work as "Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.)"
a. Sometimes short cuts are a good thing, but other times they just get us lost.
b. Because of their impatience with the plan of God Sarai and Abram put in motion a plan that will cause them and the rest of the world trouble.
c. The son that will later be born to Hagar is the father of the Arab nation. Two nations came from Abram and they have always been at war with one another.
d. Sometimes our plans do noting but get in God's way, and we almost always live to regret it.
B. God's In Control
1. Illustration: A Pastor tells the story of Wilma, a member of his congregation.
Wilma had been a member of our church for many, many years. In her later years she needed the assistance of a cane to help in walking. As she was talking with me, she would make points by lightly tapping me on the chest or shoulder with the handle of her cane. One Sunday after our morning worship service, I was standing at the back of the sanctuary and Wilma hobbled up to me and said, "That was a pretty good sermon." In my true Christian piety I said, "Thank you Wilma, but it wasn’t me it was the Holy Spirit." Without batting an eye she tapped me in the middle of the chest with her cane and said, "Oh no, if it was the Holy Spirit it would have been a lot better than that."