Summary: A look at how and why we settle for less than God's best.
WHY DO WE SO SELCOME SEE GOD DO GREAT THINGS? Often in our spiritual lives, we become content with second-best plans.
- Genesis 17:16, 18.
- Abraham had so come to accept his Plan B (having Ishmael by Sarah’s maidservant) that when God speaks of the fulfillment of His original great promise (v. 16) Abraham doesn’t grab at it at all. In fact, he simply asks that Ishmael might be the one who is blessed (v. 18).
- He privately scoffs at God’s offer even as he is worshiping.
- In v. 17, it says he fell facedown – that’s a position of worship. He knew to bow down to the presence of God. Yet even as he does that outward action, he “laughed and said to himself” that there was no way that was going to happen.
- Sometimes we go through the public motions of devotion – reading the Bible, going to church, saying “Amen” – while we privately have given up on seeing God fulfill His great promises.
- We’ve come to accept a second-best answer.
- We become content with our second-bets plans and lose sight of God’s larger vision.
- We settle.
- Often, it reaches the place where even if we are offered something better, we don’t jump at it.
- Abraham here doesn’t respond to God’s message by saying, “Really? You’re going to do that?” or “I believe that You can bring that about!” or “Let’s go!”
- Instead, He just wishes that God would bless the back-up plan that he had come up with and leave it at that.
ONE REASON WE SETTLE: We get tired of waiting.
- Abraham was 75 years old when he originally heard from God back in chapter 12. He is now 99 years old. (Verse 24 tells us that. In v. 17 is apparently just ballparking his age for the sake of effect.)
- That’s essentially a quarter-century. That is a long time to wait.
- It’s been 13 years since Ishmael was born (v. 25). That’s a long time to shift your affections from God’s original promise to the flesh-and-blood child that you already have. In one sense, it’s hard to begrudge Abraham for his affection for Ishmael. I expect the boy was the apple of his eye, but it caused him to lose sight of God’s original promise.
- There comes a point where we just want it to be over.
- There comes a point where we just want to be done.
- We’ve lost our passion and desire to see all that God originally offered. We’re just tired of waiting and want some resolution.
RAISING THE BAR: We should hold out for total fulfillment of God’s promise.
- We need to have sufficient faith to expect God to “fully fulfill” what He has said He would do.
- We need to believe that if God promised it He can bring it about.
- This is not insulting toward God. This is honoring Him.
- It says, “I believe You are capable.” It says, “I believe You are strong.” It says, “I believe You can.”
- I’m reminded of the gospel story of the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-10). The centurion said that he believed Jesus to be a man of authority, like himself, and that Jesus merely needed to say the word and it would happen. Jesus was impressed, saying He hadn’t seen that kind of faith in Israel.
- What impressed Jesus? It was the fact that centurion took for granted that Jesus was a man of authority and when He spoke things would happen.
- This is part of not settling. We need to believe, even when we’ve had to wait a while, that Jesus is still fully capable of doing what He said.
- Another key idea that we need to hold onto here comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
- In Matthew 7:9-11, Jesus talks about the good heart of God. He asks, If a human father is generous with his kids, how much more generous is your all-holy, all-pure, all-loving Heavenly Father going to be?
- This is put to the test when we wait. We struggle with the waiting and begin to wonder whether God is going to come through for us.
- We have to hold onto the certainty of His good heart.
- We sometimes have this happen without fully realizing how much we’re diminishing our faith in God.
- In business language, this is called “vision creep.”
- That is the idea that the original vision slowly gets diminished and altered as problems, obstacles, and difficulties are encountered.
- You start out in a business to provide “world-class customer service” and end up satisfied if you have an occasional day when there are no customer complaints.