Thursday, January 21, 2010

Daily Digest #379

We should not trust in ourselves but in God. —2 Corinthians 1:9
It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” —Luke 4:4

I was browsing through facebook earlier and was entertained by the many posts, videos and shoutouts from various friends. Many of which helped me remember the things I used to believe, the songs I used to hear, and the words that has repeatedly reassured me of God's presence in my life. So thank you, dear friends :D You have no idea how much of a blessing you are to others. May you continue to be His instruments of love and inspiration :D

Waiting is the Hardest Part

Part 1

"Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children . . . so she said to Abram, 'The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.' Abram agreed to what Sarai said" (Genesis 16:1–2 NIV).

And so Sarai took it upon herself to solve God's problem. After all, God told Sarai's husband, Abram, that he'd have a huge family, more descendants than there are stars in the sky (Genesis 15).

Sarai waited and waited for God to provide their first descendant, to answer her prayers, to make good on his promise--but the baby didn't come. Every day, the tension and the frustration mounted. As that great theologian and musician, Tom Petty, sings: "The waiting is the hardest part."

Like me--perhaps like you--Sarai began to wonder if God would ever answer her prayers or if he had forgotten about her. Perhaps--like you, like me--Sarai questioned whether God really knew what he was doing.

It appears Sarai's thoughts walked as far as her faith would carry her until she stood looking at the mountains of her fear. Did God understand how important this was to her? How could God deny her the greatest desire of her heart? Was God even on her side?

Even as Sarai acknowledged God's ability to fulfill the promise--"The LORD has kept me from having any children . . . "--she denied God's sovereignty to decide when the promise would be fulfilled.

If we could ask Sarai, "Can God?" she most likely would answer "Yes." If we then asked Sarai, "Will God?" her honest answer may have been "No."

When faced with a delayed answer, do you break with God? What does manipulating an answer to our prayers say about our belief in God's character?

Part 2

"Now the serpent . . . said to the woman, 'Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'" (Genesis 3:1 NIV).

And so Sarai took it upon herself to fulfill the promise, no longer trusting God to do his job. The waiting is the hardest part, and Sarai was tired of the wait.

Sitting in a humid tent, she heard the support poles creak; she heard, through the open flaps, a camel snort; and she heard . . . was that a voice, like the hiss of a serpent, saying, "Did God really say your husband would be the father of a family so vast it would surpass the number of stars in the sky?" (Consider Genesis 3).

Perhaps Sarai said, "God can, but he won't." Or maybe she said, "God can't figure this out, but I can." Looking through the tent's door, she saw her servant Hagar, and in that moment she saw the solution, though she didn't see the Pandora's box she would soon open. Perhaps she even thought, "Of course! This is probably the answer God meant for me to see all along."

Sarai believed her assumptions more than she believed God's promise. She wondered why God was no longer on her side--"Why is the LORD keeping this from me?"--instead of confessing she was no longer one with God's will.

Ask God to help you identify the places in your life where you're saying, "The LORD is keeping this from me!" God's interest is that you master the lessons of faith. He wants you to succeed, able to walk further in faith each day. So failure is not defeat; he will continue to teach you--and stretch you--until walking by faith and not by sight is as natural as breathing. Tell God, "I believe; help my unbelief!"

Part 3

“God also said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.’” (Genesis 17:15–16 NIV).

(This guest devotional is by Jon Walker, author of ‘Growing with Purpose,’ and editor of the Purpose Driven Life On-line Devotionals. )

Just like you or me, Sarah and Abraham may have thought, “God doesn’t understand our circumstances; his commandments are good guidelines, but they simply don’t work well in the nitty-gritty of life.”

And so Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.

Yet the promise had been that Sarah would be the one to deliver a son for Abraham; so the wait continued, long after reaching the point of desperate frustration- -the place where you say, “God, I can’t go on any longer!”

You’ve been there--like the widow knocking on the judge’s door, you pray day and night but the shutters stay closed and the door remains shut (Luke 18). Sarah and Abraham knocked on that door for another fourteen years! (Genesis 16:16; Genesis 21:5).

While Abraham and Sarah waited, God made a covenant with Abram, changing his name to Abraham, which means “father of many.” And he changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, saying she would be the mother of nations and among her off-spring would be kings (Genesis 17 NIV).

Then God sent three mysterious visitors to tell Abraham that Sarah would provide him a son within the year. Sarah laughed, not believing God was about to give birth to his promise (Genesis 18).

Yet, they were totally and wholly dependent upon God to fulfill his promise. Not dependent because they’d obediently submitted everything to God, but totally dependent because they’d exhausted every other possibility.

And that’s often why God delays. He’s waiting on us to be ready for him.

Finally, God opened Sarah’s womb so she could bear Abraham a son in his old age, at the time appointed by God (Genesis 21:2).

For this, let us pray. Lord, please help us put to good use the little faith we have in our hearts. May You continue to speak to us in ways that we would understand. May we open our ears to Your message, and gain courage to act upon the things You ask us to do. In moments of fear or doubt or hopelessness, may we cling to You and find comfort in You. May we learn to fight temptation with Your words, and Your love. These we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

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