“So Sarai said to Abram, ‘The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.’ And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.”Genesis 16:2 (NLT)
Abram had received great promises from the LORD that he believed. Therefore, we know him as the father of faith. But he also had lapses of faith when he did not fully trust God.
Despite Abram and Sarai being old and childless, God had said that one from Abram’s own body would be his heir. When nothing happened right away, Sarai suggested that Abram have a child by her Egyptian servant Hagar, and Abram agreed! This action was not based on faith in God’s promise but on doubt that He would perform what He said.
“For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”Romans 14:23 (ESV)
The plan seemingly worked. Hagar gave birth to Ishmael who would become the father of the Arab nations. But this was a child born according to the flesh rather than the child of promise. Therefore, God was unwilling to bring forth the promised Seed (Messiah) through Ishmael. God does not recognize our efforts in the flesh.
Has there ever been a time in your life when you’ve tried to “help God out” rather than simply trusting in Him to fulfill His Word? I know I have.
Twenty years ago our church purchased 15 acres of property in hope of building a facility. We designed plans but never had the funds to complete the project. We were told about an “opportunity”. A company had five modular units that they had used for an office. They would give us these if we would pick them up. Since we didn’t have the money to build the church, we thought that this would be a good option. We designed new plans to include these, but we still did not have enough money to build. So they sat on our property for three years. Finally, the county made us remove them. No one else wanted them, so we were forced to demolish them in winter. Unfortunately, they had floor tiles made with asbestos, which we had to carefully remove in hazmat suits! What we thought was an opportunity ended up being a disaster. This was my experience in trying to do the work of the Spirit in the strength of the flesh. After this I determined that we would wait on God to build the house. I want an Isaac and not an Ishmael!
If you have ever attempted to do the Lord’s work by trusting in yourself rather than God, then you are not alone. Even Abram and Sarai had such lapses of faith. Admitedly, unbelief has its negative consequences, but God is merciful. Just acknowledge your “child of the flesh” and ask God to forgive your unbelief. He will restore your faith in Him and give you the child of promise in His good time!
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