Summary: It seems like a no brainer for believers to include God in every aspect of life? So what would cause a believer to leave God out? Our Family Minister, Scott Jewell explores some of the excuses people use in this message.
Read Hebrews 11:8-12
Each week, we have a group of ministers that meet over lunch to encourage each other and sometimes we plan sermon series together. This month we’re focusing on obstacles to healthy relationships. Last week, Jeff spoke about only giving the leftovers, today I want to discuss leaving God out.
Some of you may be thinking- Wait a minute, Scott, you just read about Abraham’s faith, how does this fit? After all, God called Abraham at the age of 75 to move to a place that he didn’t know, promised him he’d have a son, and Paul even tells the Romans Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. How could this possibly fit in with a discussion about leaving out God?
Here’s the thing- we often take the men and women of the Bible and put them on pedestals. I often here Hebrews 11 referred to as the Hall of Faith. However, God not only revealed these people’s strengths, He worked through their weaknesses. When Abraham packed up his bags and left, he didn’t travel a straight line from A to B. His journey looked more like this picture here, doing well for a while, faltering here or there (I showed a graphic with a straight line from A to B on the left, and a line with loops and curves going from A to B on the right).
It seems like a no brainer- why would a believer ever try to leave out the God of the omnis (meaning all)? We serve a God who is omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (everywhere), and omniscient (all knowing), why would we leave Him out? As I was considering this, I began getting text messages from someone I know if St. Louis. They were bummed out because they had figured out they needed to stop pursuing a relationship with a professed atheist. We messaged back and forth for a bit about what had happened, and then something she said gave me a light bulb moment. I told her this conversation fits right in with Sunday’s message, got her permission to share and asked her, “Why would you consider pursuing a relationship with an atheist at this stage of your life?”
It was interesting to watch how her answers lined up with what I was preparing in this message. She mentioned things like personal desires, not wanting to wait any longer, concerns she wasn’t good enough, fear of being alone, and worry that things will never work out. As we look deeper into the lives of Abraham and Sarah, we’ll see these excuses come into play as they develop into these heroes of faith.
The first excuse we use to leave God out is fear. In Genesis 12:10-20 (I gave the references for people to look for themselves, but told the stories instead of reading each one), God made His promise and Abraham packed his bags and moved. Shortly after, a famine strikes the land so Abraham takes Sarah and his entourage down to Egypt. On the way, Abraham asks Sarah to tell the people that she’s his sister (turns out they’re half-brother and sister AND married, but that was allowed back then). She agrees. When the Egyptian princes see Sarah, they tell Pharaoh about this beautiful woman and he takes her in to become one of his wives. God strikes the Egyptians with plagues and Pharaoh figures out what happened. He returns Sarah to Abraham and sends them packing along with several parting gifts.
I’d love to say that I’m a person who lives without fear. Many people look at my size and hear about my past ministry in the inner city and assume there’s no way I would fear anything, but it’s simply not true. There are times that I’m frightened at the idea of evangelism. We had one time when we set out our basketball hoop in the alley for the boys to come shoot around before Bible study, there was a guy about my height with a big afro and ornery look that would stand a house or two down and just watch. He made me nervous because I wasn’t sure what he was going to do. One day the ball bounced off the rim and rolled to his feet. I thought, “Here goes nothing,” and walked down to retrieve the ball, inviting him to join us in the process. We got to talking and he found out about our Bible studies and the next morning drug a whole group of teens out of bed to be at Bible study with us.
The second excuse we use to leave God out is impatience. In Genesis 16:1-6, we see that ten years have gone by since God promised Abraham a son at the age of 75. Sarah gets impatient, figures there’s no way she’s having a child, and offers Abraham her Egyptian maidservant Hagar. Of course, Hagar gets pregnant, causing strife in the house. She becomes haughty towards Elizabeth and Elizabeth eventually kicks her out. That strife continues today as the descendants of Ishmael are the Arab peoples.