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Evidence of God’s Faithfulness

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Evidence of God’s Faithfulness

Genesis 21:8-21

Every person can know God better by learning some lessons about Him. 

Introduction:

A young American engineer was sent to Ireland by his company to work in a new electronics plant. It was a two-year assignment that he had accepted because it would enable him to earn enough to marry his long-time girlfriend. She had a job near her home in Tennessee, and their plan was to pool their resources and put a down payment on a house when he returned. They corresponded often, but as the lonely weeks went by, she began expressing doubts that he was being true to her, exposed as he was to comely Irish lasses. The young engineer wrote back, declaring with some passion that he was paying absolutely no attention to the local girls. "I admit," he wrote, "that sometimes I'm tempted. But I fight it. I'm keeping myself for you."

In the next mail, the engineer received a package. It contained a note from his girl and a harmonica. "I'm sending this to you," she wrote, "so you can learn to play it and have something to take your mind off those girls." The engineer replied, "Thanks for the harmonica. I'm practicing on it every night and thinking of you." At the end of his two-year stint, the engineer was transferred back to company headquarters. He took the first plane to Tennessee to be reunited with his girl. Her whole family was with her, but as he rushed forward to embrace her, she held up a restraining hand and said sternly, "Just hold on there a minute, Billy Bob. Before any serious kissin' and huggin' gets started here, let me hear you play that harmonica!" 

Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, pp. 17-18.

     Throughout Scripture we see evidence of God’s faithfulness.  We can test God if we feel the need.  We can also see evidence of his faithfulness in these verses. 

Lesson I.  God speaks

A. In this passage you have a conflict that develops.  Earlier Sarah had suggested that Abraham have a child with Hagar, her maid, so that Abraham can have a child of his own.  He does this, but it was not the way God had intended to fulfill Abraham’s promise.  Eventually Sarah has a child, but Sarah seems to feel threatened by Hagar and Ishmael he son.  So she asks Abraham to get rid of these two because they are creating a great deal of stress for Sarah.  This would not be a big deal, but these were now a part of Abraham as well.  Now Abraham has two sons, and two mothers who want the best for their sons.  It creates a conflict for Abraham.  He seems to have wanted everyone to be happy.  So we read in v. 11 that this matter distressed Abraham. 

B. In order to deal with this distress God speaks to Abraham.  He really gives Abraham words of comfort for the troubling situation that he is in.  He gave Abraham the comfort that he would watch over the child.  He would not allow him to get into trouble.  He was even going to make this child into a nation.  Abraham was given the assurance that God would take care of the child.  So Abraham could send the child on his way and not have to worry about the welfare of this boy he brought into the world. 

C. When I look at how Abraham got this child it is fascinating to me that God would still provide care for him.  The child came to Abraham out of his lack of faith.  We might even construe what happened as disobedience.  Even in the midst of this God chooses to provide for Abraham and this son that was born in an illegitimate way.  God initiates this by speaking to Abraham. 

D. I don’t want you to get the idea that I don’t believe that God speaks audibly to people today.  God can do whatever he wants.  I believe that the majority of the time God speaks to us from His word, the Bible.  He speaks to us a smaller fraction of the time through other people and audibly.  If we want to hear from God, the first place we should be looking is in the Bible.  At the same time we can be listening for him in these other places.  Abraham did not have a Bible he could open up.  So God spoke to him audibly.  Now we have the Bible and God speaks to us through that. 

Lesson II.  God hears

A. Abraham did what God said.  He listened to Sarah and got rid of Ishmael and Hagar and sent them on their way.  He did make sure they had supplies.  Eventually the supplies run out.  It seems as if this might be the end for Hagar and Ishmael.  So Hagar puts the boy down and goes away from him, because she is convinced that he is going to die.  She did not want to see him suffer.  As the boy is lying there by himself he begins to cry.  In v. 17 we are told that God heard the boy crying. 

B. It makes me wonder if the boy and his mother were not crying out to God.  They might have been begging him for mercy.  Sometimes when you are praying and something hits you as especially emotional, you might start to cry.  I think this might have been a mixture of prayer and crying.  Whatever it is God hears the cries and he responds to them.  God responds to the cries by sending an angel. 

C. I have got a friend that I will go do things with.  When we get together sometimes we just have fun and sometimes one of us needs to vent about something.  So the other one will sit and listen while the other one vents.  He said one time that it was nice to have a friend who would listen.  He has other friends who feel the need to comment on everything that he says.  There might be times for that, but it is nice to have times when you can talk and someone else will listen. 

D. This reminds us that God is a God who listens to us.  Maybe we need to ramble on to God.  We can do that because we know that God will listen to us.  Maybe we have been in situations where it was hard for us to express ourselves.  All we could do was to cry.  God can even hear and interpret our cries to him.  He is a God who listens and understands what is happening in our lives. 

Lesson III.  God directs

A. When Hagar and Ishmael were crying God sent an angel.  The angel speaks to Hagar and directs her attention toward a well of water.  It says that God opened her eyes.  For some reason she had not been able to see this before, and now after the Angel speaks to her she is able to see it.  This was just the thing she and her son needed to keep going.  It seems that without God’s intervention she would not have seen this well.  She would have laid there and both of them would have died.  God directed Hagar, and allowed her to see this well of water. 

B. When Abraham was troubled and did not know how to handle the situation God spoke to him and showed him that he could send Hagar and Ishmael on their way.  God had been directing Abraham from the time he left his father’s household.  Now as Hagar and Ishmael think they are at the end of their lives, God again steps in a gives direction.  He allows Hagar to see this well.  He also lets her in on the news that Ishmael would be a great nation.  God directed these people. 

C. God’s direction is not required to abide by our limitations.  A lot of people in the world have this notion that everything that comes to us from God has to be pleasing to the ear.  I don’t believe that is the case.  Abraham was told to send Hagar and Ishmael on their way.  I know if that was my child I would have felt a bond with him, and I get the sense that Abraham did as well.  So I believe that he would have liked to keep Ishmael close to him.  God sees things differently.  He tells Abraham to send them on their way, so he does it. 

D. God still directs us today.  As you might guess one of the ways he directs us is through His word, the Bible.  We need to seek God’s word for direction for our lives.  There are timeless truths that need to be a part of our lives that we will gain from the Bible.  We also have that still small voice.  I contend that if we don’t know God’s timeless truths from the Bible we will now recognize God’s still small voice.  We need to know those eternal truths. 

Lesson IV.  God stays

A. Much of this passage gives us the image of a woman and her son who are in a great deal of trouble.  You might even get a picture in your head of a couple out in the desert, miles from anyone.  They are stranded and desperately in need of help.  It really looks pretty hopeless.  Even though things look hopeless and they appear to be alone they are not.  God heard their cries and he sent and angel to help them.  God have earlier spoken to Abraham about the promise that Ishmael would also be a great nation.  God had stayed with Hagar and Ishmael.  He remained true to his promises.  He did not neglect these people in their time of need. 

B. In v. 20 we are told that “God was with the boy as he grew up.”  This is unique.  There are only six times in the Bible when this phrase is used.  It is used to describe a unique presence that God has with a person or a group of people.  God had promised Abraham and Hagar that the boy would be taken care of.  In fulfilling this promise we see that God was with the boy.  He made sure he had the things he needed to survive.  He made sure that he followed paths which would lead him into the success that God was speaking of.  This took place to insure that God fulfilled the promises that he made to these people. 

C. One of the words we use to describe God is omnipresent.  This word describes a God who is always present.  Even though Hagar and Ishmael appear to be alone in the wilderness.  God is with them.  He is able to hear the cries of these two.  He is present.  When Paul is all alone in a prison cell he could have been overcome with a sense of aloneness.  Instead, he chooses to accept by faith the reality that God was with him. 

D. How many of us have been in a situation where we felt that we were all by ourselves.  I would guess that we have all experienced that at some time.  If not it will be coming.  Even when we don’t feel like God is with us, we can accept by faith that God is with us.  He loves us so much that he will not allow us to face a low time or a trail without him.  That does not mean that we will feel like he is there, we need to make a conscious decision that God is there.  That has to be what drives us and motivates us.   

Conclusion:

     Probably most of the time we are all convinced that God is faithful.  It is something which is easy to say when things are going good for us.  When things are not going so well it might be something that is hard for us to see.  Look that this passage from the perspective of Ishmael and Hagar.  They were in a pretty ugly situation.  It seems so much more dramatic when we see God help someone in a situation where bad things are happening. 

     When things are bad in our life we must force ourselves to rely on God.  Even though our circumstances have changed God has not changed.  Push yourself to trust in God and his faithfulness. 

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