Sermons

Summary: A look at the consequences of trying to manufacture an answer rather than waiting on God to come through for us.

OUR SITUATION: We have a real problem and God seems to be late.

- Genesis 16:1, 3.

- Verse 3 notes that they’d been living in Canaan for 10 years at this point. Ten years is a long time to wait, especially for something as meaningful as a child.

- We don’t want to minimize the struggle that Abram and Sarai were going through. This was a real struggle. It was lasting a long time. It had to be incredibly frustrating.

- Often this is a lingering problem that’s been around for a while.

- We’re getting tired. We’re losing patience. We’re losing hope.

- Real life examples from today:

a. A single woman wants to get married, but isn’t finding a solid long-term relationship.

b. A woman wants her husband to become a Christian.

c. A man wants a better job.

d. A church wants to see harvest.

THE WRONG ROAD:

1. Blame God for the problem.

- Genesis 16:2.

- We start coming up with reasons that God is failing us:

a. “I don’t think He’s ever going to come through for me?”

b. “When is He going to answer?”

c. “He’s all-powerful – why can’t He get this done?”

- The consistent pattern of Scripture is generally this: the longer the wait for the answer, the greater the answer.

- But we lay aside the idea that God could be up to something great. Instead we think that He’s being negligent.

- This helps to open the door to the next step: when we take matters into our own hands.

2. Manufacture a way to make something happen.

- Genesis 16:2.

- Also make the “perhaps” point.

- We’ll say things like, “Maybe this will work.”

- “Let’s see what happens.”

- “I don’t know but. . .”

- “Why don’t we try. . .”

- “Maybe we should. . .”

- It is very American to “make something happen.”

- Real life examples from today:

a. A single woman wants to get married, but isn’t finding a solid long-term relationship.

- It would not be the woman joining Christian Mingle, but deciding sleeping with guys is the only way to hook one.

b. A woman wants her husband to become a Christian.

- So she nags and pushes.

c. A man wants a better job.

- So he takes one even though it requires him to work on Sundays.

d. A church wants to see harvest.

- So they try to get more people by being entertaining.

3. Find assurance when others buy into it.

- Genesis 16:2 (“Abram agreed to what Sarai said”).

- You might just have one friend that agrees with you and that gives you the confidence you need.

- A whole church can buy into it.

- Many people either get caught up in the peer pressure or genuinely think it’s a great idea.

THE RESULTS:

1. Something happens.

- Genesis 16:4.

- It “worked,” in the sense that something happened.

- Our made-up plans produce something but that something is usually a mess.

- There is often a single fleeting moment of joy when something happens: progress!

- “At least there’s some action,” we think.

2. As things don’t work out great, the blame game begins.

- Genesis 16:5.

- Isn’t amazing how quickly the blame game starts when things go south?

- Isn’t it amazing how consistently covering your butt is the default response when things go bad?

- People start sending emails staking out their position to avoid blame. People start conspiring in secret conversations about who the real culprits are. People start manufacturing arguments in their heads as to the true way things unfolded and how they were an innocent bystander.

- It’s worth noting here how illogical Sarai immediately gets when things begin to unravel: “Abram, this is all your fault!” Really? It’s certainly partly his fault for not saying no to this plan, but it was your hair-brained idea, Sarai!

- A second thing I like about Sarai’s diatribe is that she even has the audacity to call on the name of the Lord in judgment against Abram. She feels that she’s totally justified in her anger.

- It is incredibly hard to look the situation in the eye and say, “I was wrong. I need to repent.”

- It’s so much easier to try to figure out who to blame.

3. Things are worse than they were at the start.

- Genesis 16:6.

a. Cowardice from Abram.

- He basically responds to the mess by throwing up his hands and saying, “Ok. Whatever. Do what you want.”

b. Meanness from Sarai.

c. She is fleeing with Abram’s son.

d. There is the coming historic, lingering clash between the sons.

A FINAL WARNING: Sometimes the consequences of your Plan B cannot be undone.

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