Struggling with God’s Will

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If you have a Bible this morning, we’ll invite you to turn to Genesis chapter 16 and 17. Uh, we’re going to start in 16. So there you go. So you can’t turn it two chapters at once, right? Unless you’re on the same page. So start in 16 and we’re in a series together called blessed. And the reason that we are blessed, all of us this morning could say we are blessed. And that’s simply because of the grace of God. Let me give you a reason why, if you’re looking for one. Um, God does not owe us today. He doesn’t know us tomorrow. He doesn’t know us his life. He doesn’t. He doesn’t know us. Anything there is. We are under no obligation to him. He is both judge and jury. And the Bible tells us that all of us are born in sin. And so we are completely at God’s mercy in his justice to to bring that at any moment. God doesn’t offer us his grace. But here’s the good news is he gives it to us. He gives us opportunity to know him, to draw near to him, to experience life with him and eternity with him in joy as we walk with him. And so because of that, because you’re here, we know that we’re blessed. In Genesis chapter 16 and 17. It compares for us the struggle of one walking in the flesh versus walking with the Lord. It’s a text of Scripture, of a, of a, of an individual living his life.

Abraham who who lives a life that’s blessed by God’s grace. And he can continue to walk with God’s grace, but he struggles with his old nature or his nature in the flesh as he desires to walk with God, he’s struggling between his will and God’s will. Whether it’s my will or I will. And so chapter 16 is juxtaposed perfectly against chapter 17, understanding what life looks like when we walk according to our will and what life is like when we walk according to God’s will. And we’re going to see is 16 has is covered with brokenness. And chapter 17 is filled with joy and laughter. And so this morning, this is how it’s going to go. We’re going to talk about sin. And that’s not always fun. Actually, I don’t know when it is fun. But then we’re going to talk about how we discover joy in our relationship with God despite sin. And life for us as people is tempting. And life can tempt us to compromise in God’s will. In fact, the story of Genesis chapter 16 starts right after a beautiful passage in in in chapter Excuse Me 15, where Abraham shares a story about his his connection to God, his his walk with God. And so in chapter 15, Abraham has a a personal conversation interaction with the Lord. And so we’ve seen in Genesis 12, when Abraham’s journey begins, he goes through a lot of life experience in just two chapters.

Chapter 15, it takes a break. It stops. God intervenes in his life, establishes a covenant with Abraham based on what he has done. Nothing to do with what Abraham has done. And Abraham communes with God. Just like Abraham. Even though we may give our lives to Jesus. Doesn’t mean our lives will go perfect. Truth is in our lives, even though we may know the Spirit of God. The Bible tells us in Ephesians chapter one and verse 14, when you trust in Jesus that the Spirit of God seals you and you are the temple of God. No longer do you have to go to a a location to worship him, but you can worship him wherever you are because His Spirit indwells you. And even though His Spirit indwells us. We still war with our flesh. Romans chapter seven says, and according to the life of Paul, he says, oh, wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of sin and death? There is a struggle we face in Genesis 16. Abraham faces that struggle. And Ephesians five. The Bible says this to us in verse 15. Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Be careful. And the war between your flesh and the spirit.

In verse 17, Paul’s acknowledging something for the life of the believers. He’s saying, um, God has a will for your life. Because we don’t always live it, right. And just because you know Jesus or claimed to know Jesus doesn’t mean you walk with Jesus. But just because you became a Christian, if it were easy then and you could live out God’s desire in your life, Paul would have never said in verse 17, but understand what the will of the Lord is. But the reason he presents this statement in verse 17 is because it is a challenge for us to live it out in our lives. I want to be careful in the way that we present this this morning, though, according to living out God’s will. And Abraham is going to share about his failures in verse 16 and chapter 16 and his struggles. And then we’re going to talk about walking with God. But here’s what I don’t want our ears to hear. I’ll tell you what I want our ears to hear in a minute. But let me tell you what I don’t want to hear is to hear. I don’t want us to hear I’m bad, and so I need to do good. Okay? The the answer to living in the Or living out the flesh and defeating the flesh isn’t about that’s bad. And so I need good. I don’t think the primary thing that God is after here this morning is, is I’m bad.

And so I need to be good. In fact, if you view your walk with God that way, it’s going to rob you a lot of joy. And I’ll explain all that in just a minute. Well, let me just say, now that I’ve said that I’m not telling you to go be bad. A matter of fact, there are ways that God has called us and created us in his image to glorify him in this world. And sometimes we may clarify that or call that being good. But I want to be very careful in the way that we define good this morning, because it has a lot to do with God’s will in our lives. Got that. Lock it away in your head for just a minute. If I’m bad. It’s not about being good. Okay. Hold it. We’ll get the solution. But life can tempt us to compromise in God’s will. And if I ask that in the question, I would say, how well do you do when when following God’s will? Are are you a person of compromise? And Abraham? Chapter Genesis, chapter 15 the Life of Abraham. We see this beautiful story where where Abraham interacts with God and it’s just one chapter later, we just turn the page, read the next verse, and he’s fallen again. And it says in verse one, now Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had borne him no children, but she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar.

So she said to Abraham, the, the Lord has kept me from having children. Go sleep with my slave. Perhaps I can build a family through her. And Abraham agreed to what Sarah said. So after Abraham’s nuts. So after Abraham had had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarah, his wife, took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. And he slept with Hagar and she conceived. Um, guys, let me just say this real quick. Don’t do that. Don’t don’t do that, all right? Just because it’s a narrative story in the Bible doesn’t mean God wants you to do everything that’s recorded in the Bible. A narrative story is just a narrative story. It’s not a theological belief. Don’t do this, okay? But Abraham like us. Faces. Temptation. He faces compromise. We read a story like this and we can be quick to to judge Abraham. And the decision that he made a little more cultural understanding helps us to see that he he’s living out a cultural influence in his life. But I don’t want to be quick to, to to judge Abraham because the Bible tells us in Genesis chapter 16 and verse 15 and 16, so Hagar bore Abraham a son, and Abraham gave the name Ishmael to to the son. And she had borne. Now it’s it’s wrong what Abraham did. But look at verse 16. Abraham was 86 years old when Hagar bore him.

Ishmael. In Genesis 12. The Bible tells us that when Abraham left from the land of ur to the land of Canaan on this journey, God gave him a promise. The promise said, this I will give you the land of Canaan, and I will. I will bring you a child, and through you all nations, all people will be blessed. And he told him that his his, uh, from his family or from his child, that they’ll have children as numerous as the stars in the sky. And so, at 75 years old, Abraham listens to God. He leaves from the beautiful land of ur, where the cradle of civilization is found, and he goes into the land of Canaan to live among nomads in tents. And for ten years. He waits for God to fulfill his promise. What about you? And maybe this isn’t your temptation. But how long do you wait? You know. I know how it works with in our lives. We. Maybe see someone beside us who has all these amazing toys and possessions and and your whole life, you’re just coveting that better car or that ATV or or that camper or whatever that you see them having for years. You just think about it. But, you know, based on your income, it’s not it’s not for you in the cards, but but you just got to have it right. Or we can do that in, in careers and achieving careers or possessions or, or money or promotions at work.

You know, if I just did this, even though it may be compromising, I can get to where I want to be. And so the the end for me justifies the means. Maybe it’s in relationships or lust. You think about your relationship and you say, you know, my wife’s not giving me what I deserve. Like in the case of Abraham, he wanted a child. And so he he goes somewhere else outside of what God’s plan was. Abraham had reasons for doing what he was doing. He gave in into this temptation of pressure on him through the promise of God. It started off as a godly thing that God God told Abraham, and Abraham takes the beautiful promise of God and he compromises it. As if God needed his help. We talk about. Temptations and trials. I know we’ve mentioned this recently in The Life of Abraham, but a trial for us works like this. A trial is when we’re going through a difficult time for God’s glory. And a temptation. As when we’re fighting. It’s something for our own glory. The temptations about pleasing self. Trials tend to be more about pleasing the Lord. And Abraham in these moments of temptation. There’s no only thinking about God’s promises, but perhaps he’s thinking about his own needs in life or what he clarifies as a need apart from the Lord. And it may be in these moments Abraham is embarrassed.

You think this guy just left this nice place and earth to live in tents and Conan, and he moves into these people groups, and he explains to him the reason this foreigners living in their land. And ten years go by and they’re looking at this guy, 75 years old, saying he’s going to have a kid, and now he’s 85 years old, and every time he goes there, just pointless saying, this guy. He’s out of his mind. Maybe he just wanted to fit in. Everyone in this culture is having kids, right? And during the life of Abraham, kids are viewed much more of a blessing than we view them in our own culture today to to our fault. But, uh, people wanted to have children, uh, families wanted to have children. They they thought about generations through that and, and passing off their inheritance and the blessing of family. And everything was, was family based and and Abraham, Abraham wanted to have a kid and he just he just wanted to fit in. And on top of that, what Abraham did with Hagar was completely culturally okay. In Abraham’s culture, if your wife was barren, it was justifiable for the husband to find someone who could help him have future generations. So that way you’ll see, as Abraham’s been concerned, in Genesis 16 and 15 he mentioned this, that that he was concerned that when he passed away that one of the servants in his household would inherit.

The things that God had given him. And so it was culturally okay. The practice what Abraham wanted to do. Abraham had his excuses. The same works for us in our temptations. No, I’m not getting what I want out of this. And so rather than pursue or continue to follow after the Lord, I just want to give in to this area because I have I have needs. And we make a a temptation about a must, rather than simply following after the Lord and the results of what Abraham experiences here. It tells us in in Genesis 16 and verse five and six, even though even though everyone in the family, even the servant, agrees to this, this is the result of what happens. And Sarah said to Abram, May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my mate into your arms. But when she saw that she was conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the Lord judge between you and me. But Abram said to Sarah, behold, your maid is in your power due to her what is good in your sight. So Sarah treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence, even even though they’re agreeing to this as a good thing outside of God’s will. What they discover is that walking with God was the best place to be. It tells us. Even though Sarah agreed to it. Sarah gets mad at Abraham. And now that Sarah is mad at Abraham, Abraham feels bad for Sarah.

And so Abraham says, okay, honey, you want to be mean to people because I upset you? Go ahead. Go ahead and be mean to people. And Hagar looks at the moment and she realizes having children is an honorable thing, society. So she looks down on Sarah. And I don’t know what happens between these ladies, but whatever it is, it’s so severe that Hagar would rather risk going into the desert and dying than staying near Sarah. Sin harms us. Even if we. Agree to do it. We give in to personal temptation for gratification rather than standing with the Lord. In Genesis 1612 says this Ishmael then will be a donkey of a wild man. His hand will be against every man. Now here’s a little secret about me. Um, I don’t like riding on animals. If they’re big and they’re big enough to hold me, then they scare me. And I look at this as Isaac or as Ishmael when he’s born in Genesis chapter 12, and he’s like a wild man of a donkey. And I’m thinking, well, how crazy is this guy? In the midst of. Situation of compromise. Craziness is born. How do we determine when to wait on God and when to move? Now, Abraham looked at this moment and thought, you know, God gave this promise and I’m glad he gave me this promise. But what he really needs now is he needs me to save the day, right? So since it’s been ten years and God, I’m guessing he should have fulfilled that by now, I’m going to go ahead and step in, and I’m going to give God what he thinks he what he knows he needs to give me, but apparently is not capable of giving it to me himself, even though he promised this.

How do you determine when to wait on God and and when to move? Maybe for an answer based on the life of Abraham. In these moments, we’d say this God does not want you to compromise your faith to accomplish his will. God, I felt really country. Did I say that? Real country. His wheel. God. God doesn’t want you to compromise your faith to accomplish his will. And in fact, God doesn’t even need you to accomplish his will. The end doesn’t justify the means. Well, God is really interested in. As yet, God will produce results. What God’s interested in. Is your heart on the journey? What I mean is this. God. God doesn’t need you. But he enjoys the pleasure of using you. Because in that. It’s what he uses you to draw you to him. God is completely, completely capable of doing everything he wants to do without you ever lifting a finger. Um, there’s nothing that you do that impresses God that he couldn’t just do for himself. As a church family. This is this is important for us to think about when we put in the bulletin, join a team.

And so we we as religiously thinking people. Sometimes this is the way that we approach ministry and serving God. God needs me to accomplish a task. That’s what we’ll think about. God needs me to do this. And so we we go to the the church building on Sunday where we will call church. We’ll go to church on Sunday and we’ll be involved in a ministry. We might sign up for a ministry. And we look at it, it’s all about accomplishing a task. This is this is my job and I’ve got to complete it. But do you know the real thing that God is interested? And the reason we do ministry on church on Sunday is not to accomplish tasks? That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It’s not about accomplishing task. Here’s what it’s about. It’s about reaching hearts. We have the ministries that we have on Sunday morning. Not because we feel obligated to have to accomplish some tasks like God needs us to do that. We have ministry on Sunday morning because we know that what God desires is to reach hearts. It’s about the journey. And so whatever we do here on Sunday morning, the the ultimate goal isn’t to accomplish the task. The ultimate goal is to reach hearts. But the reason we do a task is to reach hearts. And in the end, as you reach hearts, a task is accomplished.

But the primary point. It’s about what God wants to do in us and through us. The end doesn’t justify the means, because God is the God of of the means just as much as he is a God of results. And so God wants to work in, in us and through us to impact hearts and touch our lives. And so it’s not about accomplishing the task, but it’s about all of us together, encouraging one another to seek the Lord. I think theology is important. Matter of fact, it’s how we know God. But if we’re not careful, we can even treat theology that way. Or we go to study about God and we make it an academic exercise. And so we know everything we think we might want to know about God, but we really don’t know God. Now I say that with a with a concern. Let me just say this. I’m not telling you all know, be worried that you’ve studied so much about God and you don’t even know him. So now you’re going to stop studying. What I’m saying is keep keep learning about the Lord and his truth, but realize that the purpose of all of that is to connect you in relationship to him. And so if you’re just simply coming to theology or you’re just simply serving to to accomplish a task and you’ve missed the entire point of the journey, which is to connect to him.

How do we know? How do we determine when to wait on God and when to move? God doesn’t want you to to compromise your faith to accomplish his will. But I would say this is what God wants you to walk in the spirit to accomplish his will. God want you to walk in the spirit to accomplish his will. In Genesis chapter 17, right after right after Abraham, and falls and compromises in his faith, it says this. The Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, I am God Almighty. Walk before me and be blameless. This idea of walk symbolizes a duration of a journey. In this text, God could have used any any sort of word to illustrate our relationship to him. He could have said crawl. He could have said. He could have said. He could have said sprint. He could have said run. But he says walk. In this passage, which symbolizes for us a duration of journey. And so he says, when we walk, do this before him, which means in regards to him, conscious of his presence in your life, walk in step with him. This this passage gives us the idea of in cadence with with God step. Learn the rhythm of the way God moves and move with God. Waltz with him if he wants to dance, but just but just walk with him, step for step. And he says the result. Is that we are blameless.

And this doesn’t mean perfect. What the Hebrew text in this passage literally means is complete. Saying to both you and me this morning, the reason that God created you isn’t isn’t for the goal of accomplishing a task. And get this, it’s not. It’s not to primarily be good, though. Good will have a place here in just a moment. God has created you to walk with him. And the rhythm of his grace that you find yourself complete. And the Lord who has created you for his purpose. Walking with God. Is not about avoiding sin. Walking with God, rather is about staying with God. Let me give you the the big difference in this. This is the difference between approaching God religiously and approaching God relationally. It is possible. To live good. And never be close to God. And God doesn’t call us to be good. God calls us to be godly. And what I mean is, you can be good and never be close to God. But if you are with God, you will live blameless or or complete. As a matter of fact, when Paul wrote in Galatians chapter five and verse 16, he’s talking about believers now indwelt by the Spirit of God, who put their faith in what Christ has done. The Bible promises that the spirit indwells you. And so he says this in Galatians 516, but I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh, but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Against such things there is no law. And this is how we approach it from a religious standpoint. We’ll say to ourselves, you know, God wants me to be good. And so I look at this list and I realize I am not joyful. There is no peace. I certainly don’t have patience. I’m okay. Unkindness. And I guess on goodness but faithfulness, gentleness, I’m just filling in these. So I’m going, I’m going to try harder to do this. But if that becomes your goal, you miss the entire point of this passage. Because what Paul is saying here is not that this there is bad and your job is to do good. What Paul is saying here is there is a spirit, and he empowers you to do what God calls you to do in this world. Walk in. This passage in the Greek text literally means surrender to the spirit. I say walk in the spirit or surrender the spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. And look at this. But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness. Doesn’t say the fruit of you. It doesn’t say the fruit of me. If you want to produce the fruit. You got to connect to the root. And that’s not you. It’s a spirit. God calls you to surrender to his life.

Are your life to his life. God wants your heart with him. Because it’s his spirit that empowers you to do what he’s called you in this world. And you’re completely capable of just. Doing good according to the world standards. But not doing godly according to God’s standards. Because that’s by the power of his spirit. God is about the journey. He’s not just in the results. Truth is, in the life of Abraham, he could have made a kid any way that he wanted to. He didn’t need Abraham’s gift of having kids. All he wanted was Abraham’s heart. And surrendering to him. In the New Testament. The fruit of the spirit works out what God desires in your life. It’s not according to your flesh, but according to his spirit. You know, we just recently had a a youth retreat, and, uh, I love I love youth retreats. I love getting together with our kids. And I think we had some we have some great leaders that really help out with our youth ministry. And and they had a wonderful time together. And one of the things they did on the last night that they were at this retreat is they gave the kids opportunity to ask any question they wanted to, and they’re going to give answers to the questions the kids have. And and they asked pretty typical questions for teenagers that they’re facing in that time period of their lives. Right? Um, sex, drugs, rock and roll, tattoos, um, smoking, I don’t know, on and on it went walk with God how to handle certain emotions in life.

And and a lot of that is it’s good. It’s really good to ask those questions because as people, what we want to learn is we want to learn how how the mind of the Lord is and and to line ourselves up with God, God’s mind, and how he honor that. And there’s there’s a good part in asking those questions, and I’m glad when people ask those questions for those reasons. We’re going to tell you. Sometimes there’s a danger in the motivation behind why we ask those questions. Sometimes we ask questions about drugs, sex, rock and roll, whatever. Um, just because we want to know where the boundary is in our walk with God. And so our thought is this how close to the edge can I get without taking God off? Right? I mean, where is that boundary line to where I can go so that when I, when I make this decision, God’s not going to be mad at me, but I, I get to to to to live the way that I want. So show me, show me where that line is. And I want to live that life. And, and our picture of God becomes like this when we when we begin to think that way, our, our picture of God is, okay, there’s this guy who’s made a bunch of rules and it’s to rob me of joy, and I just want to live my life not making him mad.

And so I’ll come to church on Sunday because I feel obligated to do that. And and that God should be happy with that. And I hope he’s not mad. So I can get money to myself and walk on the boundary. Right? I just want to say if that if that is your picture of God. It is so far and messed up from what God wants in your life. So the point of what Galatians is saying within our lives, when the Spirit of God is controlling our lives, we don’t even care where the boundaries are. The pursuit of our heart is to connect with the one who brings us love and joy and peace and patience, and we may learn about those boundaries as it relates to the will of God. But in my heart of hearts, the the sole desire of my life is to connect me to him for which I was created to do. And so to walk in this world, even asking those questions, God, where’s the boundary? So I can get close to the line, is to live a life void of the joy that God desires for you. The point isn’t about good. The point is about God. You can live a good life and never be connected to God, but you can connect to God and be blameless.

To be complete. To to know the reason that he has created you. If we could go back for a moment in Abraham’s life when he he makes this decision right before he makes this decision, I mean, what what what is it we could say to him? And what could we what could we say to ourselves when we’re subjecting ourselves to falling short from what God has called us to in this world? Maybe we should say Abraham. Just be patient. And God is working out his will in you as you walk with him. Or how about this, Abraham? Be bold. Be bold in your faith. Yeah, I know in your society you’ve got this social pressure of what is pulling you against the norm of what God’s called you to because of the the cultural standing. But just just be bold. I mean, if you think in our history today, just people that have have impacted the world around us, it was individuals that stood against the grain, that stood bold in their faith, that stood for truth and love. You think Martin Luther, who led the Reformation, Martin Luther King Jr, who, who, who led the civil rights movement or or Abraham Lincoln, who set the the slaves free, completely justifiable in those moments to sit and say, you know, I stand for I stand for the Lord. I’m just comfortable where I’m at. Let’s just stay right here. But to be bold.

And the spirit. And the truth is this, people. We’re blessed as we walk in God’s will. Genesis 17. Abraham discovers. The blessings of just walking with God. It says in verse one, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, I am God Almighty. Walk before me and be blameless. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly. Abraham fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, no longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham. For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. Genesis 16. Abraham’s in sin. Genesis 17. Abraham is on his knees before the Lord. You stop and think about the beauty of that for just a minute. Because when we read a passage about being bad or sinful. And God calling us to be godly, even after saying that this this could be the tendency in our lives thinking, man, I’ve just been striving to be good. Not not really next to God. What am I doing? And you start. You start blaming yourself. You start feeling bad. You start. You start just isolating yourself from God. I know it happens. It happens to all of us. When when you do something wrong, you just start beating up on yourself, right? Like I’m not worthy of God and I don’t deserve to be near God. And and I shouldn’t even come before God. I can’t even think about this.

That could have been Abraham in Genesis 16 and now Abraham in Genesis 17. It tells us he comes before God, and God just embraces him. I mean, we of all people should know what we need to do. What God called us to is his grace. In revelation chapter 12, the Bible tells us that Satan is the accuser of brethren. I mean, Satan is is the king of of taking your past and rubbing it in your face to live in that and to feel that way. But Jesus is the King who comes to life, offers his redemption on your behalf. He’s not focused on your past. He’s looking to the future that you have in him. He doesn’t care about where you’ve been. He’s looking at where he’s called you to. In him. The truth. Ah, the wonder of that. So while you yourself could even beat yourself up over the things you’ve done. God places incredible worth on your life. Because he’s created you in his image and he’s died for your sins. The King of Kings has given his own life for you. We’re blessed as we walk with God. And this is what Abraham finds in his walk. He calls him I am God Almighty, which literally means El Shaddai. This is where Amy Grant gets her song. Everyone sing it when you go home from church. El Shaddai, El Shaddai, if you don’t know it, it’s okay.

It’s an immigrant song. Abraham. God almighty, he he’s saying, okay, Lord, I’ve messed up. And you, you are Lord. And he goes on and says, I’m going to walk before you. I’m going to, I’m going to live my life in light of you. And then he he bows down before God. He says, I’m surrendering in verse three. I’m on my face surrendering in worship to you. And this is what God does. He changes Abraham’s identity from Abram to Abraham, which means a father of nations. And this is what happens when you come before the the Lord in His Spirit for his presence and relationship, which you’ve been created to do in God. God transforms your identity in him because he is the one that gives you your worth. It’s not based on what you’ve done, it’s based on everything that he has done on your behalf. And in that. You have a hope and a future. Abraham. Truth is, maybe some of us this morning. And the reason? That we’re just feeling so short and feeling so worthless and feeling like God we’re undeserving of the Lord is that we haven’t just not taken the time to see the identity that God has placed on us. It’s everything to do with his love over you. And that compels our hearts to relationally connect to a God who loves us so much. We worship. Abraham says this in Genesis 17. He goes from I my will, God, to I will.

Talking about the Lord. God says this. He says, I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants. And after your throne there generations from everlasting. I in verse eight will give to you and to your descendants, and after you, the land of your sojourns, all the land of Canaan, from an everlasting possession I will be their God. God. God is saying to Abraham, now that you’ve learned, trusting in you is not what works. Why don’t you just let me? I will do this from from your will to now. My will. Abraham. God allows Abraham to rest in the comfort of him. This is what else Abraham gets. He gets intimacy with God. This is a crazy way to explain it. But let me let me read this. This is my covenant which you shall keep between me and you and your descendants. After that, every male among you shall be circumcised, and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between me and you. Okay, so in the back of our room we have a surgical center set up. For now. That’s not that’s that’s true. That’s not true. Okay? We’re not we don’t get circumcised. You don’t have to get circumcised because this verse says this.

We’re outside of the law. And so what what God is saying to Abraham in this passage of Scripture, he’s saying, Abraham, this circumcision that I want you to have. I want it to work as a physical reminder to you of the intimacy you have with me and the most private, secluded section of your life, the most vulnerable place that you have. Remembering my covenant, the seed that I’m going to present to you, I want you to know I am Lord of all of it. Abraham has intimacy with God. Sarah’s blessed. Abraham’s family is blessed. It says, Then God said to Abraham, as for Sarah, your wife, you shall not call her name Sarah, but Sarah, but Sarah shall be her name. Not only does God change Abraham’s name and identity, God changes Sarah’s name and her identity. And the word Sarah literally means princess. At 90 years old, God still sees Sarah as a princess. Guys, let me just tell you, your walk with Jesus should so encourage your heart and connecting to him that regardless of dumb decisions that Sarah makes or regardless of what your wife does, she is still a princess in God’s eyes and your princess that he has given to you. Last is this. God said no. Sarah. Your wife will bear you a son. And you shall call his name Isaac. Now I’ll establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. Maybe you think your temptation will make you better off.

But the truth is, there’s no better way. And to walk close to Jesus. Ishmael. Meant wild donkey man. He’s crazy. But Isaac. His name means laughter. And now coming back to Jesus, coming back to the Lord and walking with him. There’s joy. God brought a home of brokenness back to laughter. The story of Ishmael and Isaac isn’t to say to us that God only cares about one, but what is rather saying with us is that God brings joy when we walk with him. I’m thinking about this passage of scripture. I was reminded this past week, um, as I was traveling out of state, I ran into a guy and he gave me $1,000 for our church. And then he said. He said to me, I want to give you this, and I’m going to tell you why. For why I’m giving it to your church, but I want you to do something with it. But when I tell you the story, I don’t want you to punch me or get mad at me. I’m thinking, oh, great, what’s going to come out of this mouth? So I’m like, okay, I’ll put my hands behind my back. And you just you just tell me the story, man. Why are you why are you giving me $1,000? And and this guy knew my mom. And he shared my life story with my mother. He said. Like this. Um. My mom had me when she was 16.

My mom was living Genesis 16 at 16. We know that the statistics when when a young mom has a child, the child can grow up in poverty. It’s difficult without a dad being around. The tendency of of just bad things happening in that type of environment increases in the young single mom. And it’s not to say God’s glory can’t work out. In fact, I’ll share how it does in just a moment. This guy said your mom had you when she was 16. And she could have taken a compromising road and made her future a little easier by getting rid of you as a child. In America today. We we abort 1 million children every year. And your mom could have done that. But she took the hard road. She not only had me, but she went to college and she got a degree and she figured out how to provide for me as a child growing up in poverty. My mom faced Genesis 16. But when she was pregnant with me, she came to Genesis 17. And this is what she did. She realized her circumstance. And as a mark before the Lord. She chose to name me Nathaniel. My name literally means a gift from God. In the midst of hardship. She just wanted the Lord close. It’s not to say anything great about me, because I had nothing to do with naming me. But the man who gave me $1,000 said this.

Your story is gold and you need to go share that with people in similar situations. That’s what I want your church to do. Go figure out how to share that with people. And he looked at me and said this because of what your mom did, how many people in your life do you think you’re going to impact in a positive way because of her choice? And that’s to say to us this morning, you may be in Genesis 16. But when you take a moment. To just pause where you are and realize that what God has called you to isn’t to zap you on the rear end because you’re walking the boundary, or he isn’t calling you just to stop being bad and start being good, but to connect him, to connect yourself to him, to let you come before him in his grace. To realize God has given his his worth on you by coming and dying for your sin. When you surrender your life to that and connect your heart to that, God can transform any of those moments. God takes a wild. And crazy. And the compromising of her culture. And it gives us joy and laughter in him. Ephesians 515. Be very careful in how you live. Not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. This morning he wants your heart.