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little girl waiting January 19 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading: Genesis 16, 17, 18

What to Do While Waiting

Someone in authority says to you, “don't do anything until I get back. When I return I will take care of it.” But what if that person delays coming back? And, what if things don't seem to be going the way we think they should? Perhaps, we should help things along. After all, doesn't the Bible say, “God helps those who help themselves?” Actually, to the surprise of many, there is no place in the Bible that says that. Yes, we need to act in faith, but we need to do it in the way and time God desires. Though it is difficult, sometimes we just need to wait.

For ten years Abram and Sarai lived in a strange land with the promise that Abram would have a son. Now he was eighty-five and she was seventy-five. Even if they still had their youthful vigor (people back then lived much longer- possibly because of good genetics), it didn't look like God was going to answer their prayers. Maybe he needed help. Maybe he wanted them to show some ingenuity. God gave them a mind to use, right? We show our faith by our works, right? Yes, both statements are true, but they needed to follow God's directions, and God did not say to Abram and Sarai, “work it out yourselves.” He gave them an unconditional promise that He would bring it to pass. They needed to show their faith in God by waiting. What about us; will we wait for God to work, or will we make our own plans, just in case God does not deliver on our time table?

Sarai, Abram's wife, concocted a plan to help God (Genesis 16:1-16). Since she was barren, she could exercise a common practice of the day to have children by her maid servant. Since Hagar was her maid servant, she would become Abram's wife, and the children she bore would be Sarai's and Abram's. Well, her plan did not work out too well. True, Hagar did get pregnant, but then she despised Sarai, thinking herself better than her mistress for carrying Abram's child. Sarai blamed Abram (figure that one out), so Abram left the situation in Sarai's hands. Sarai mistreated Hagar, and so she fled. Abram should have been a man and stood against Sarai's plan to give God help. He did not. After waiting ten years for her to become pregnant maybe Abram was also giving up hope. We do a lot of dumb and sometimes desperate things when we lose hope. Because Abram did not follow God's leadership, however, Abram had to bear the departure of his wife Hagar and their new born son (Abram's first and only child at that time). What do you need to wait on God to do in your life? Abram and Sarai had to wait fifteen more years for God to fulfill his promise to Abram and Sarai. That is a total of twenty-five years since they were originally promised a son. How long are you willing to wait on God?

Genesis 16:7-14 is an encouraging message for those suffering domestic violence. As God saw the distress of Hagar in the wilderness, pregnant and fleeing from the mistreatment of Sarai, God also sees abused wives (or husbands) and orphaned children, and he cares. When God revealed himself to Hagar in the wilderness and gave her hope, Hagar gave him an endearing name. The name Hagar gave for God was Beer Lahai Roi, which means the “Living One sees me.” God was not just Beer Lahai Roi for Hagar; the Living One also sees you in your afflictions. God then directed Hagar to return to her home and be submissive under her mistress (which she apparently had not been). God's instructions to Hagar to go back home, however, does not necessarily mean others in abusive situations should do the same. Hagar was a slave, not a wife on equal par with Sarai. She had no rights of her own. Today, if a woman is being mistreated she may have to remove herself from the situation, stay with a friend or family member, and get some Biblical counseling. God will provide hope and protection if those who are abused or otherwise mistreated follow his leadership.

Another thing we need to do while waiting is to be loyal and committed. In today's marriages we have wedding rings as symbols of our commitment to a lifetime of love. In Abram's day the symbol for his commitment to God was the circumcision of all males (Genesis 17:12-14). This was a conditional covenant. His family's obedience in circumcision signified their willingness to cut off the life of the flesh (their sinful culture) and live for God. The circumcision of Jewish babies and many non-Jewish babies around the world has been practiced since that time. While circumcision is now more of a tradition than a commitment; there are, however, certain health benefits to having the procedure done (more...). It is very likely that God was looking out for their health, but God's main intent for circumcision was to symbolize the circumcision of their hearts (Deuteronomy 10:16). Spiritual circumcision is what God still desires for all Christians, male or female. Spiritually speaking, what are we willing to cut out of our lives so that we will live for God? The physical symbol that we have today to show our commitment to live for God is not circumcision but water baptism. Have you been baptized to show others your commitment to live for God? Are you living up to your commitment?

While waiting for God it is important that we do the things he wants us to do, the way he wants us to do them, until he comes back. We might liken this to a parent who leaves his young adult children in charge, or a foreman who leaves his workers in charge. We expect them to do the right things the right way and with good behavior.

Genesis 18 reveals the good character of Abraham (as a sign of God's promise to be fulfilled, God changed his name from Abram to Abraham, meaning “father of many” nations). While he was waiting for God, three strangers came to his tent from a journey in the desert. He was not mean or rude to them - he was hospitable. He welcomed the strangers and fed them. The writer of Hebrews exhorts Jewish believers, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it,” (Hebrews 13:2, NIV). This is exactly what Abraham did. Are we kind and hospitable to strangers? (This does not mean that we are hospitable to those who are obviously dangerous). Abraham was sensitive to the fact that the men were on a journey in the heat of the desert sun. Abraham offered them water and something to eat to refresh and revive them. From their conversation he learned that they were messengers from God being sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, because of their perversions and wickedness (one of the messengers was probably a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ since he was called the LORD in Genesis 18). Abraham was concerned - his nephew Lot and his family lived there. In his compassion he plead with the LORD to save the righteous in the city, even if they were few. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone, but Lot and his daughters were saved. In Jude 7 the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was likened to the destruction of sinners in the eternal fires of hell. Our response should be like Abraham's (Jude 22-23); we should have compassion on people and seek to save them from this everlasting judgment. A true personal relationship with God brings spiritual life and peace (more..)

Lessons to live by:

•  While waiting, keep trusting God and do things as he directs. This will lead to less trouble and more blessings.
•  God cares for those who are mistreated. Put your trust in him. Seek help if you need it.
•  Christians, show your commitment to God by cutting off impure habits and sins and by being baptized.
•  Be hospitable to strangers.
•  Be compassionate to those who do not know God and are headed for everlasting hell-fire. Pray and share the gospel with them to try to save them if you can.

Today's Bible Memory Verses:

Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”(NIV)

Jude 1:22-23 “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (NIV)

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