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Lessons from Sarai and Hagar

Abram looks at the stars.

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I know, I know, another sermon on waiting on God.  Make it stop, preacher!  Well, that’s the joy of expository preaching and preaching through books of the Bible.  We’re on the Lord’s timing.  And I’ve heard from many of you who, like me, have needed these sermons on God’s delays.  I was particularly convicted about God’s delays being used by God to deepen my dependence on Him. So I’d love to hear from you about particular areas or, dare I say it, idols of the heart that the Lord has revealed to you over these last few weeks. 

Cringe Factor

My opening illustration was a worthy cringe moment.  Several of you caught me after church and told me you were covering your eyes when I told that story.  Believe me; it wasn’t nearly as bad as living it out!  Do you ever have those or see them happen with others?  If you’re willing to share a cringe factor moment that the Lord used to show you that you were getting ahead of Him or being impatient, I’d love to hear it.  And I promise I’ll keep it between us and won’t use it as a sermon example:).

Are dudes that gullible and stupid, or are wives that influential?  

Some see the Genesis 16 moment of Abram listening to Sarai about Hagar conceiving a child with him as a moment when he’s just gullible, stupid, or filled with lust.  And those things could be true.  

But as I said on Sunday, I think this shows a wife’s remarkable sway and influence in her husband’s life.  Like Adam, Abram disobeyed God when he took Sarai’s advice.  And both men heard from God verbally and directly.  

Just consider that for a moment in a world that mocks biblical marriage and sees marriage roles as antiquated.  What would you rather have:  authority or influence?  Most people would choose influence.  Influential people move nations, hearts of people, and legislation.  Influential people sway people in power.  Think about the role of the Chief of Staff for the President.  Nothing lands on the President’s desk that hasn’t gone through his Chief of Staff.  The CoS determines which agenda items are covered for the day, and they make his calendar.  We have no idea how the private meetings with the President go, but we can assume that the CoS plays a huge role in counseling and guiding the President’s principles and ideals.  In a very real way, this is Eve and Sarai’s role in their husbands’ lives, and we still feel their impact.  I know from experience how influential Jill is in my life.  She can strangely bat her eyes in a meeting I’m leading, and I can be influenced to change direction or at least question myself.  Thankfully, Jill knows this about me and understands how impactful her counsel is to me.  She is cautious, wise, and humorous in her advice, and she consistently gives it to me in a way I understand.  

But notice something…God did not hold the wives accountable for their bad advice.  He held the men responsible.  Wives should indeed be careful to give wise advice, but men are not to be gullible or stupid, and our attention must be to obey the Lord.  

Idols of the Heart

I don’t know if enough attention gets drawn to the idols of our hearts.  Idols are generally not evil or sinful things. Usually, they are good things that we want too much and want now.  They move from desires to needs.  They become things we crave and think we cannot live without.  And they dominate our thinking.  

And you’ll find that idols of your heart dictate how you react in certain ways.  Here’s an example from my life:  Several years ago, when our older kids were little, the moment I got home, the kids wanted to jump on me and play.  I found myself getting frustrated and impatient.  I felt awful because I wanted to hang out with my kids but kept getting angry.  I wanted to put this to death. So I read a challenging book on anger, Uprooting Anger, by Robert Jones, to counsel my heart.  In that book, Mr. Jones goes after idols of the heart to deal with anger.  He gave an example that hit close to home. He said that dads often come home from a long day at work and want to put their feet up, read the newspaper, and relax.  And then, something interrupts their moment of peace and calm, and they get angry.  Anger was the action, but the idol of peace and quiet pushed the buttons.  Ding, ding, ding…the idol in my heart of comfort, peace, and quiet was revealed by my anger.  Anger is sinful, but I was worshipping something other than God.  What a moment for my heart!  And God has used that moment to change my life.  

You?  Where is a sinful reaction revealing idols in your heart?  

This Coming Sunday

This Sunday, May 21st, we will leave Genesis and look at James 3:13-18.  I want to see the dangers of selfish ambition and jealousy.  I want to do this because we have seen it in Genesis 16, and it’s always good to examine things we see in the Bible more closely.  Our service will be at 10:00 a.m. at Jacoby Auditorium on the campus of Umpqua Community College.  

Moving Ahead

We will return to the book of Genesis in September or October.  Part of this is because we are doing a summer in the Psalms.  Like a refreshing drink on a summer day, Psalms will be like cold water to our hearts. And be sure you pay close attention to our locations.  Beginning June 4th, we will be at One Champion Field, Jacoby, or CLF.  We are doing our best to update you on all locations and changes. But, right now, we are indeed a mobile church.   

From the Cheap Seats

Have a great week!

In Christ, 

Dave York

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