This message was preached by Lasya D via zoom Word of Grace Church, on September 15th 2020. For the audio please click here.
The Impossible Grace of God
How many of you know how to swim? When you’re underwater, how do you breathe?
How many of you would say that you have had at least one major crisis in your life? I think being in a crisis – the death of a family member, sickness, accidents, depression, loneliness, a pandemic,- these are crises and I find that it feels like your underwater. It forces us to behave in ways that we wouldn’t under normal circumstances. What we do in a crisis will determine whether we progress and become strong, or we sink.
Today we will look at the story of 3 people who were in a major crisis of faith, we will look at their conflicts and through it all, we will look at the compassion of God. I want to talk to you all about Abram, Sarai and Hagar. I entitled this message the impossible Grace of God.
Gen 16: 1- 16
1. The Crisis of faith:
Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go into my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived.
a. What was the cause of the Crisis? Having to wait – the impossibility of performance. Abram received a promise that he will be the father of nations. It was customary at this time that the man would inseminate the servant if the woman is barren and the servant’s child will be considered his heir. So you could say that Sarai was making the best of a bad situation. She was bringing into reality the promise of God. But God’s promises require God’s process.
b. When we see and perceive with our natural eyes, what seems to be the obvious answer is not necessarily God’s will. Rely on what God says v. our own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make.” Isaiah 1:18 – ““Come now, let us reason[a] together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
c. Here is the hope - God’s promises supersede biological timelines and impossibilities. His word over you releases grace to go against natural timelines and impossibilities. Psalm 27:13 – 14 says I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.
d. Application: How are spending your time during the current crisis we are in? Are you still believing God and relying on Him to bring about his promises or are you simply coping?
2. The conflict of man:
And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.
1. What we give birth to in the time of crisis, will go on to cause conflict. Whatever we sow we reap. The story progresses and tells us about the enmity between Ishmael and Isaac and that Isaac was persecuted by Ishmael until Hagar was once again driven out of the house.
2. Conflict between Abram and Sarai – He made Hagar Sarai’s responsibility instead of taking responsibility for the woman he just inseminated. Abram not only shirked his responsibility but he did not consult God on what to do with this situation.
3. Conflict between Hagar and Sarai - Despise/contempt in Hebrew a slight, to dishonour, to look down upon. And Sarai in return dealt with her harshly – to the extent that Hagar ran away. How many times have we seen people leave the church because they’ve been treated badly? It is for us to realise that our destiny is fulfilled in connection with people who are placed in our life.
4. Why do we have conflicts? James 4:1 -2 (TPT)- What is the cause of your conflicts and quarrels with each other? Doesn’t the battle begin inside of you as you fight to have your own way and fulfil your own desires? 2 You jealously want what others have so you begin to see yourself as better than others. You scheme with envy and harm others to selfishly obtain what you crave—that’s why you quarrel and fight. And all the time you don’t obtain what you want because you won’t ask God for it!
5. Application - do we maintain the standards of honour and respect when you are in conflict with someone. Do you look down upon them – consider the posture of your heart. How do you maintain honour?
a. We remember who they are – they are made in the image of God, they are favoured and loved by God etc. We need to see them the way God sees them. Sometimes people act outside of their identity and we cannot treat them based on what they do but who they are.
b. We stay connected - not to stay in an abusive situation, but in conflict we stay connected because in your connection is the covenant.
c. We stay humble. – humility means we consider others more significant than ourselves. Phil 2:3 – “in humility consider others more significant than yourselves”
3. The compassion of God:
Gen 16: 7-16
The angel of the Lord (Jesus) for the first time visits this Egyptian slave pregnant woman who was running away from her abusers and He asks her the question that he asks Adam in the garden of Eden – where are you. She says I’m running away.
Hagar has an encounter with God, repents and believes God. That is faith. She saw the God who sees and gives sight and listened to the voice of Him who listens. She had a revelation of the nature of God that is unchanging. She received His promise and obeyed his voice. She had hope to return to.
Once we encounter God we never go back to a bad situation in the same way. I know that God has a plan for the descendants of Ishmael because he’s the God of compassion. He is the God who redeems our mistakes and misdeeds. He is the God of Nineveh, the God of Ahab, the God of Paul, the God you and I. He is the God who sees and has compassion.
Matthew 9:36 - When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 14:14 - When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Luke 7:13 - And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep (This is where he raises the widow’s son)
If we want to see miracles, healings and resurrections, there is a revival coming, but it will be fuelled by compassion. A Compassion revival – where the hearts of believers will be made tender towards one another and towards those who have been afflicted. We are called to see and have compassion for those who are disenfranchised, lost – sheep without a shepherd and people without hope.
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.