Pt. 3 - If You Laugh ... You Leave!
Truth is talked about a lot. It has been said that truth is different for everyone. I would beg to differ. Truth is truth because it is truth across the board. That is what makes it truth. There has to be a standard of truth by which what we believe to be true is judged. We have been very clear in our declaration that the standard for a true believer is the Word. By the way . . . Just because we don't like the truth, can't handle the truth or even if truth doesn't line up with our experience/feelings that doesn't make it any less truth.
The urban dictionary defines a truth bomb as "a fact spoken in clear, easy to understand terms and without bias." So, very clearly today I want to share a truth with you.
From early on in Scripture one of the revelations about God is that God is a God of covenant. A covenant is a binding promise. It is a promise that carries with it a guarantee or contract. Time and time again we find God making covenant with man. Making covenant is part of His nature. In fact he continues to seek and enter covenants with us today. Promises, words, declarations, decrees over our lives that we can hold on to and bank on to come to pass. We also know that covenant promises almost always carry with them stipulations usually found in if/then clauses. If you will do this, then I will do this. I know very few believers who have been following Christ long that haven't received a personal promise or covenant from God. Much like the subject of our attention today. It is one of the earliest and most profound covenants in history. It establishes the bloodline of an entire race of people. The covenant is first mentioned in Genesis 12 but knowing that we forget it is repeated in Genesis 15.
After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
So, we see that Abraham is about to give up on the covenant. He is about to take matters into his own hands and hand his inheritance to a substitute rather than a son. God vetoes that plan and reminds him that he has a covenant on which he can count. You know the rest of the story. Time goes by and once again Abraham gets impatient with God's timing. This time his wife Sarah steps in and repackages Abraham's original plan by offering him her handmaiden/servant. Abraham agrees and lo and behold she has a son named Ishmael. Abraham's impatience cost him and continues to cost us today since Ishmael's seed has spawned the continued unrest in the Middle East to this day. However, I want to draw your attention to one particular instance in this account that will be the basis for our truth bomb today.
Genesis 21:1-5, 8-10
The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. And Abraham named their son Isaac. Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion. But Sarah saw Ishmael—the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagar—making fun of her son, Isaac. So she turned to Abraham and demanded, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I won’t have it!”
Here is the truth bomb for today . . . Can you handle it?
What God has said to you will be challenged by what feels/looks good to you!
What is convenient will try to convince you to forget and forgo the covenant.
The convenient will closely resemble the covenant but half truth is fully a lie. Partial obedience is complete disobedience.
Ishmael pokes fun at or teases Isaac. He tries to step up and over the son of covenant. He is trying to usurp the rightful heir. Listen you need to hear me today. You have a promise from God but the enemy of your soul will try to get you to settle for what feels/looks good. It will be easier. It will be quicker. The path will be shorter. There will be less faith and patience required. There will be less pain. Less process. Less tears. At least for now. The enemy will use the convenient to try to distract you from your destiny and your destination and the detour may seem innocent but it is insidious and deadly. The convenient will cancel the covenant.
I am telling you now that the convenient will literally ridicule the covenant in your life. You have to guard your virginity till marriage? That's silly haven't you seen the tv programs? Everyone is doing it. You have to remain pure until you say I do? That is crazy you have already messed up so what's the harm? You have to be honest at work? That's ridiculous the only way to get to the top is by doing this? You have to stay in the relationship? That is ludicrous you can exit the covenant for $49! It would be easier just to exit. You have to sit for a few months to prove your ready? Why? You are talented. You are gifted. You are ready. Just go over here and you can go straight to the stage.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? Just eat the fruit that's not what God really said. Old song simply repeated with a new beat and we still fall for it. The convenient costs us the covenant. And although the short term result seems to be success and happiness the long term fruit is frustration and failure.
So what do we do . . . There will come a day, if you are going to see covenant fulfilled, that you will have to look at the convenient and say, "Leave if you laugh!"
We follow the lead of Jesus. The enemy offers Him the convenient . . . Bow down to me, jump off the temple pillar, turn the rocks into bread and you can conveniently avoid the pain of crucifixion . . . But devil you forgot to also mention that the convenient would also result in the forfeiting the plan of redemption for man. By the way . . . the enemy is a professional at failing to show us the end picture. So Jesus set His face like flint.
The convenient will have to be sent packing before the benefits of the covenant can grow up in your life.
Sarah realized as long as the result of convenient was in the house the covenant would be ridiculed and resisted. She sent the convenient packing. Abraham didn't like it . . . Scripture says his heart was troubled by it. However, if Ishmael remains in the house Isaac's path to inheritance would be challenged. Jesus also sends the convenient packing so that the covenant could be carried out.
I want to tell you the truth the covenant will cost. The covenant will require you to endure pain. The covenant will mean sacrifice. The covenant will require you to fight your natural tendencies. It will require you to throttle your passion and your pride. It will require you to check your hormones and your ambitions. But send the convenient packing anyway. If you don't, then you will find out that the covenant will be challenged, delayed, damaged, and very likely forgotten. So, hold on. Fight for the covenant. In due season. In the fullness of time. At the right moment your patience and determination will pay off and the fruit of covenant will produce a full harvest in your life.
So let me ask you this morning . . . What has God said? What has He promised? Do you even remember? Has the good feeling convenient caused you to forget? Are you still holding on to the promise or have your taken matters into your own hands? Turn your back on the convenient. Break up with the instant. Endure for the enduring.