You could see we have a title in the bulletin for this message called, "God Helps Those Who Help Themselves." However, there's supposed to be two question marks after that, not exclamation point, because that is not a scriptural principle. It's not found in the Scripture. And how many times have you heard that quoted? "Well, you know the Bible says God helps those who help themselves." Oh yeah? Where? It's not in there. God didn't come up with that one, Benjamin Franklin did. In fact, it is the opposite. God helps the helpless. Now, we usually botch things up when we start getting in the way of what God is doing. We want to get our fingers in the pie, we want to become involved, and we say, "Holy Spirit, thank You for Your advice, I'd rather do it myself." And usually when we do something like that, we get in the way, we mess the whole thing up and then we say, "God, please fix it." We usually get involved in helping God out because we don't like to wait upon the Lord. It is a difficult thing to wait on God. Nobody likes to wait, period. I had a father who used to pick me up from school. And I could count on him being at least a half an hour, sometimes an hour late all the time. It drove me bananas. And nobody likes to be put on hold when they're expecting something. It's tough to wait. One of the funniest, or I should say the cruelest things I ever saw was at a hospital I was being trained at in Southern California. There was a waiting room. And people really waited in those things. There was about seventy people waiting to see a doctor. And it was jammed up and this doctor was going off duty. I knew him. And he stood and walked out in the waiting room and stood in front of everybody and said, "Uh, how many here are waiting to see a doctor?" Everybody raised their hands, and he said, "Well, you've seen one." And he walked off. Pretty cruel.
We hate to wait. As Christians, we find ourselves waiting upon the Lord for many things. We're waiting for His direction, His plan, His purpose to unfold. And it seems that we're always waiting on the Lord for something, whether it's a direction or a move, or it's a mate, or it's a ministry to get involved in, we're waiting for the Lord's direction, but it's a tough position to be in. Isaiah Chapter 40 says, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." What a beautiful promise, waiting upon the Lord. And yet, it's one of the toughest things we do. It is difficult to sit back and trust the Lord and not push and want to get involved and do it ourselves. We feel like we need to get involved and that's exactly what Sarah and Abraham do in Chapter 16 in the book of Genesis. Because we start wondering, "Is God going to pull through? Is God going to show up? Man, I've been waiting on the Lord, and I've been waiting on the Lord and trusting Him," but you reach a level where you start wondering if God's really going to do what He promised to do. Sarah and Abraham are a beautiful, classic example of making decisions in the difficult time of waiting upon the Lord. They made an impetuous decision and you think they would've learned from making a decision a couple chapters ago, when they decided to go down to Egypt when there was a famine in the land, but they really haven't learned the lesson. And, I'd like to look at it this morning, not only for all of us, but specifically for married couples, since we have here a predicament that a married couple is in, and then a wife giving her advice and then a husband making his mistakes and the fault and the blame lies upon both of them. But how many times do we intellectually, like Abraham, know that we should trust and wait upon the Lord? And yet, at the same time, our flesh wants to step forward and get involved. You know on one hand we're singing, "We must wait, wait on the Lord." And on the other hand we're going out and botching it up.
Look at verse 1.
"Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar." That's their predicament. They had no children. Now, they'd been waiting ten years for God's promises to have a kid. And after ten years, it gets pretty old, doesn't it? Some of you have been trying to have children, and you've waited and prayed and you've had everybody in the world lay their hands on you and pray for you, and you don't have children yet. What made it worse for Abram and Sarah is that they had direct revelation from God. They had some incredible promises that they would have a child, a son. God specifically said that, "In you all of the nations of the earth will be blessed. You're going to have descendants." God made a covenant with Abram. God specifically said, "From your own body, Abram, I'm going to give you a son, and you're descendants, through that son, will inherit this land." And, after that, he even had visions, revelations, where he saw some miraculous things happen in Chapter 15, where God assured him miraculously that he would have a son. Now what a wonderful experience to have- direct revelations, God actually speaking to you, visions from God. I mean, that's enough to give goose bumps to anybody. Only one problem- no kids. And after awhile, although Abram believed God, it started weighing on him, it started bewildering him after a while. He probably would go home every month. I'm sure, I mean, I'm sure he lived there, but, in going home he would probably say, "Sarah, are you pregnant yet? You feel nausea, any vomiting? You want pickles and ice cream? What is it? Are you pregnant?" She said, "No, I'm not pregnant." Month and month, year after year, ten years went by, no promise. What made it even worse is that Sarah is getting pretty old by now. She's past the age of natural child-bearing. Would you believe, seventy-five years old at this time. Now, they didn't have adoption in those days. And after a while, they probably got together and they thought, "Do you really think this is going to happen? I mean, ten years, this is getting old, Abe. What do we do? We've got to do something." And so she came up with a proposition that we see in the next couple verses.
Now every single time that God made a promise to Abram about this child, Abram believed it. I mean, he sincerely believe that God would fulfill His promise miraculously. Look back at Chapter 12 for just a moment. Verse 7: "Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, 'To your descendants, I will give this land.' And there he built an altar to the Lord who appeared to him." Now, he's acted on faith. God said, "Leave your country, go to a new land and I'm going to bless you and you're going to have a kid." And he went. God told him again, and he was so overwhelmed, he built an altar there. Look at Chapter 13, verse 18, as God again promised him that he would have a son. "Abram moved his tent and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre which are in Hebron and built an altar to the Lord." Now look over at Chapter 15, "After these things the Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision saying, 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceeding great reward. And Abram said, 'Lord God, what will you give me seeing I go childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus.' Then Abram said, 'Look, you have given me no offspring. Indeed, one born in my heir.'" In other words, "I've got this servant, Eliezer. But I don't have my own kid, like you promised. What are you going to give me?" "And behold, the Word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'This one shall not be your heir, but the one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.' And he brought him outside and said, 'Now, look to heaven and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to them, 'So shall your descendants be.'" Look at verse 6, "And he believed in the Lord and He accounted it to him for righteousness." Every single time God made the promise, Abram said, "Lord, I believe You. I know You can do it." But as time went one, he became more bewildered. He's starting to wonder, after ten years of all these promises, "You know, was it something I ate? Did God really make these promises to me, and if He did, is He going to carry them out the way I think He's going to carry them out?" And in Chapter 16, you start wondering about it. Because, waiting on God takes its toll on the soul. The Scripture says that hope that is put off, or deferred, makes the heart sick. It's hard to wait on God. And it's critical time when you're waiting and waiting and waiting and you don't have those promises fulfilled, you start getting antsy and it's very critical because it's at that time that the old nature, the flesh, starts advancing. Taps you on the shoulder and goes, "Psst. Remember me? We grew up together, remember me? We did a lot of things together. Now I know that we should wait on God and that's all good and that's all fine, but we can get this thing accomplished if we just put our heads together. I've got a plan. Let's help God out with His promise." And that's exactly what this couple does. Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
Now, we all know what it's like to open our Bibles and come to a promise and underline it and grasp the promise intellectually. We say, "Oh that's precious. I believe it." And we lock it up in our brains and we memorize it and we quote it. And it's quite another thing for that promise to sink down from our brains into our hearts to where it really becomes a part of us and it really changes us. Abram had been instructed on visions with direct revelations, but now comes the test. The duration gets longer and longer and now he goes through the School of Hard Knocks in listening to the advice of Sarah, because the barrenness begins to take its toll. They start getting discouraged. I will never forget a time that I have not shared with many people, now I'm sharing it with everyone. I was driving down the freeway, the 405 freeway in California before I came here, and I was really angry at God. In fact, I told Him, "God I'm mad at you." Because I felt like the Lord had promised me a fruitful ministry, where I'd be able to pour my life into people and watch people grow in every direction. I was trying, but I felt the Lord was leading me was closed, and there was just no fruit, no fruit. And I just started banging harder. Finally, I just said, "I'm mad. Why don't You something?" It was a very critical time. Now the Holy Spirit is gently tapping me on the heart saying, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." I'm going, "Quiet! Not now (light laughter). That’s good for somebody else, but this is me and this is now and I don’t have any more patience, Lord. You start becoming discouraged, distracted. "Where's the fruitful promises of God."
Now Sarah, bless her heart, comes up with this brilliant idea that she thinks is a really good idea. Verse two, "Sarai said to Abram, 'See now, the LORD has restrained me,'" listen to her speech. "'This is God's fault. He's kept me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.' And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai." Question: Where did she get this maid? Look at verse 1, "And she had an Egyptian maid servant whose name was Hagar." They got this maid when they decided to be impetuous, pushed the panic button and go down to Egypt when there was a famine in the land and they came back with all sorts of things that Pharaoh had given them, some of them were servants, one of them was named Hagar. Talk about a reminder of previous disobedience. And there's Hagar, and there's Sarah. And Sarah says, "Look, I'm seventy-five years old. This isn’t working. Here's a young lady. She's Egyptian, but maybe my husband should go and conceive children by her." I believe that Sarah's intentions were pure. In fact, this was quite a sacrifice. She probably thought this way, "You know, God promised my husband a son, but God never said that the son would come through me, only that it would come from his own body. Maybe I'm not the right one. If fact, maybe I'm not even the right wife for Abram." Now I've heard many people reason this way. When things aren't working out quite the way they wanted to in their marriage. "Maybe God didn't call us together, that means we should get a divorce." Ungodly, unscriptural reason. But she probably thought, "You know the next best thing is that I give Abram this young, beautiful Egyptian handmaiden, who probably can conceive children and a little surrogate mothering never hurt anybody. I'll have a son by her." You should also know that this was a common custom of the people in those times. It was a practice of Abram and Sarah's previous culture in Ur of the Chaldeas. They did that. It was, uh, very common for this to happen. In fact, some of the archeological diggings and tablets that people have found show that a wife, if she cannot have children on her own, is responsible for giving her husband a woman for procreation. Now that was a common custom for the old like in Ur, not the new life, but the old life. Everybody around them, all the Canaanites were practicing this. And she thought, "You know, this is accepted culture. Everybody in the world accepts this. Why not?" Disastrous results. Verse 4, "So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes. Then Sarai said to Abram, 'My wrong be upon you,'" In other words, "This is all your fault, honey." "Well, wait a minute! Who came up with the idea?" "I gave you my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The LORD judge between you and me. So Abram said to Sarai, 'Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.' And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence." The result was sorrow and heartache. And by the way, these same results have continued some 4,000 years after this event. You have the descendants of Ishmael, the descendants of Isaac still battling it out and fighting it out, even on the West Bank today. Talk about longevity of disobedience.
There are a few things I want you to notice about her advice. Just listening to this woman's advice, there's three things, as Christians, we need to guard against when it comes to waiting upon the Lord and making choices. First of all is this tendency to take matters into our own hands. And you know that we have that tendency, to take something that God is doing when we don't see the result, we don't see the fruit and take it to ourselves and start botching it up and getting it done. Waiting is tough. I don't know why it is, but we get delight when we have done things our way. Alright? "I did it all by myself," and we're so proud of it. But when it comes to a work of God, if we try to do a work of God in the energy of the flesh, there the work of God is, over in the corner, ruined and smoldering, while you're singing, "I did it my way." That's about all you got. You did it your way, but it's pretty goofed up now. And all the while the Holy Spirit is saying, "Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." But it gets tough to wait over a long period of time.
There's a basic problem with so many Christians, I find. And that is a philosophy that has somehow woven itself into the Christian community that goes like this. "God has told me what to do; now I've got to figure out a way to do it." In other words, God has set the goal ahead of me and, "I've got to figure out how to reach the goal." And so, the Lord says in the Bible, that we shouldn't be unequally yoked, that a Christian man should marry a Christian woman. "Great, she's a Christian woman. She meets the criteria and she's born-again. I'll marry her." Or, the Bible says that we should be involved in ministry, ministering to the flock. And so, we get a little list of all the ministries, we go, "I like that one, don't like that one, like that one." And we never bother to ask God how he wants it done. We think the goal is all that God requires. Now, whatever happened to consulting God on the matter? What if we went up to Abram and Sarah and said, "Hey, now wait a minute, guys. Don't go so fast. Why don't you pray about this? Wait on the Lord." "Hey, we've been waiting ten years." "Well, why don't you find out from the Lord what He wants you to do?" "Well, why should we? God already told us to have a kid. So we're going to have a kid." But, you see, here's the principle. God not only has a will to get things done, He has a certain way He wants it done. And we'll be awfully presumptuous if we venture out to do something without consulting the Architect first. And this happens all the time in ministry. "God said evangelize the world. Okay let's get together, get our heads together, strategize, plan, push." Oh and yes, you'll get results, but you'll have an Ishmael many times. Because when you try to do the work of God in the energy of the flesh, oh the flesh can produce some pretty hefty results, but you'll be beat up and you'll be tired, and you've come up with all this strategy apart from the strategy of the Holy Spirit. I know many churches that pick pastors and leaders that way. Committee after committee. Strategy after plan after strategy. Whatever happened to, "Let's just wait on the Lord and pray and ask the Holy Spirit to speak a direction to us on how He wants this thing to go"? See, but we get this idea that God gave us the goal so let's get the job done; it all depends on us. Well, it doesn't. And if you don't know which way to go, it's best to stop and consult the Lord and ask what He wants and how He wants it done. Later on, when the children of Israel come into the land of Canaan, they cross the river and God miraculously opens up the river and they get to the other side and God miraculously has the walls of Jericho fall down. They get all excited. They know that God told them to take this land. That's God's goal. And so, their next move, without consulting the Lord, is they go to this small little city called Ai. "Tah, Ai, this'll be a breeze. I mean, we took Jericho. In fact, Joshua, we don’t even need a whole bunch of men, just give me a few thousand men and we'll wipe out Ai. They go to Ai. And they got plastered. They ran away and many of the Israelites were killed and they ran back home with their tail between their legs, yelping. They never bothered to consult God. They presumptuously saw a goal but they did not ask God how to get it done. That's called doing the work of God in their energy of the flesh. I'll tell ya, I know how serious this is. I just met with a leader overseas this week who had to leave an organization because this person felt that the end justifies the means. And this person was being deceptive, and it doesn't matter how you're deceptive or what you do just so the work of the ministry gets done. Well God isn't really that concerned about the work of the ministry as much as He is concerned about how you do the work of the ministry, the method in which He has it done. SO that is tendency number one and we need to be on our guard against.
Tendency number two is giving God a deadline. "God, I've been waiting ten years for a baby. This is it. This is my personal agenda, my timetable. I'll give you this much time to get the job done. If it doesn't get done, I quit." Now we fall into oftentimes, one of those two tendencies. You know, on one hand we want to take it to ourselves because we think we know better than God, we have a better plan than God. In fact, have you ever counseled God? Yes, you have (light laughter). You've been waiting and it hasn't happened and so you go, "Um, God, step into my office please. Now God I've been waiting an awful long time for this. Now I know you're busy running the Universe and all, and perhaps you overlooked this. And I want you to know that I'm a college graduate and I'm good at this. Here's the plan." Or, we give God this deadline, this personal agenda. When I was first a Christian, I heard about this thing called the Rapture. "The Lord's coming back soon, the Lord's coming back soon." A year went by. The Lord hadn't come back! Two years went by. "Oh no, the Lord hasn't come back." Well fifteen years have gone by since then. And I know some Christians who are getting very tired of waiting on the Lord. "Oh, I've heard the rapture stuff for fifteen years, the Lord isn't coming back. He hadn't come back yet." As if God needs to fit into their tiny little agenda of time. Don't give God a deadline.
Next, guard against being swayed by your former lifestyle. You know, culture that we live in has an incredible influence upon us. It influences our values. What is acceptable, what people generally do. That was Sarah's problem. You see, surrogate mothering, taking another woman, was perfectly acceptable by the standards of their old pagan lifestyle and by the pagans around them; but not by God's standards. God had a plan through Abram and through Sarah to have a kid. But she was being swayed by the previous lifestyle. 1 Samuel Chapter 8, the prophet is bombarded by the people. The people of Israel gather together and they say, "We want a king to reign over us." Samuel says, "Why?" "Well, all the other nations have kings, and we want to be like other nations." And Samuel begged them, "Please, don't sin against the Lord by taking His mantle of leadership and throwing it off to accept the leadership of a human king over you. This thing is not right." But it says the people would not listen to Samuel, because they wanted to be like other nations around them. Now God wanted Israel to be unlike all the other nations around them. God had a specific plan for this nation. But they got tired of waiting. They wanted to be like everybody else. It's tough to be a minority and trust God. None of us likes to stick out like a sore thumb on the job, in our family, at school. Here is the Christian person waiting on God, trusting God. It's very difficult position when everyone is trying to make you conform to their standard, and our culture has quite an influence on us. If they do it and it's acceptable with them well, hey. But Romans Chapter 12, what does Paul tell us? Be not, what? Conformed to this world. Or, "Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold," as the Phillips translations says, "But be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Those are the tendencies we need to guard against.
Now, just in case some of you men might be thinking, "Well, see? It's all the wife's fault. Abram's problem is that he listened to his wife. I mean, it was her advice. Sort of like Adam and Eve." And I read a humorous commentary this week, and the guy made a big deal out this. "Here's this man of God, hearing from God, undisturbed, getting these visions and revelation, and here's this housewife who's not in touch with the revelations of God, giving him advice. Well that makes Abram all the more responsible. Because if he's been out for ten years listening to the voice of God and watching the methods of God, then he should have been that balancing influence to his wife, and he wasn't. Problem doesn’t lie with Sarah, it lies directly with Abram. Look at verse 2, "Sarai said to Abram, 'See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.' And Abram heeded (or he grabbed a hold of) the voice of Sarah." He took the wrong advice. Now, she acted in ignorance, I believe. "God said we need to get this thing done, let's get it done." She acted in ignorance, but Abram should've known better. He'd been in touch with God. God communicated directly to him and he'd seen God miraculously move over the past ten years from the time he left his home. Do you remember Psalm 1, how it begins? "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly." Now, before you begin to think that ungodly means anyone who is not a Christian, that's wrong. Ungodly simply means "un-God-like," and counsel of the ungodly is un-God-like advice. "Blessed is the man who does not take advice from someone who is ignorant of the ways of God." That's how I'd paraphrase that, if you'd let me. "Blessed is the man who won't take advice from those people who are ignorant of the ways of God." Abram's problem is that he took counsel from someone who wasn't as far along in spiritual maturity as he was. And it was ungodly advice. It was good advice, perhaps. It was well-intentioned advice, perhaps. But, folks, good advice, whether it comes from your friends or your parents or your wife or your husband, although it might be good and have the best intentions, that person may be ignorant of the ways of God. And you have to be careful of the advice that you're going to listen to. They don't always understand the ways of God. And don't expect them to. Be able to hear from the Lord as you seek Him and balance these things out and throw these things up and say, "Okay, is this right or is this wrong?" The real problem with this man Abram was his leadership, and I call this the Wimp Factor. Abram was a spiritual wimp in his own home. He did not take spiritual leadership. I want you to look at a couple verses more closely. Again, verse 2, the end of it says, "And Abram heeded the voice of Sarah." Look at verse 5, "Sarai said to Abram, 'My wrong be upon you. I gave my maid into your embrace and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The Lord judge between you and me.' So Abram said to Sarai, 'Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.'" Did you get that? You know, he doesn't want a hassle. He don't want to argue with her. "Oh, whatever you want honey. Just do it." He just let it completely slide and he wouldn't take a stand as a spiritual leader. Now he should've said, "Now wait a minute. I love you, I respect you, I know you're getting antsy, I know you're seventy-five years old. But we need to consult God. Member, we tried this one time, Sarah. When there was a famine in the land. We went to down to Egypt and I got busted. And so, I know you're antsy, I know you're angry, but we're going to wait on God and that's what we're going to do." This is the Wimp Factor. He wouldn’t become a spiritual leader of his own home. Member the famous quote of Joshua in Chapter 15? He stands before the nation and he says, "Choose this day whom you will serve. Whether you'll serve the God that your father served on the other side of the river, the gods of the Amorites in whose land you know dwell. But as for me and my house," what? We shall serve the Lord." That is on more plaques in more homes than any other Scripture. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." When Joshua spoke those words to the nation in his last state of the union message, he spoke not as a leader of the nation but as a leader of his home. For when he says, "As for me and my house," the Hebrew word is family. He is saying, "Today my family and I are taking a stand. We will serve the Lord."
I want to, for just a moment, address the men of this congregation. And I wanna ask you to search your own hearts. Are you spiritual leaders in your own home? Before you say, "Oh yeah I provide. I bring home paychecks." Are you a spiritual leader of the home? It is estimated by experts, including James Dobson, that there is a problem going on even in Christian marriages where, yes he provides, yes he's busy bringing home the bread and the butter, but he's being so busy in other things and other areas of leadership that the home is being neglected. And that there's so many wives who are Christians who are wanting desperately that their husbands would take leadership, spiritual leadership. Be the man who is responsible before God for that home. Dobson, in his book Straight Talk to Men and their Wives says, "It is my guess that 90% of the divorces that occur each year involve some of the elements: an extremely busy husband who is in love with his work, and who tends to be somewhat insensitive, unromantic, and non-communicative married to a lonely, vulnerable, romantic women who has severe doubts about her worth as a human being. They become a matched team. He works like a horse and she nags. Now before you get all bummed out at Sarah for nagging, perhaps men, the finger should be pointed directly at us, like Abram, who just said, "Oh, well, just let it slide. You know, whatever." Instead of taking the authority as a spiritual leader of his home. In the same book, a lady wrote to Dr. Dobson and said, "Will you please discuss this. Dad arrives home, reads a newspaper, eats dinner, talks on the phone, watches TV, takes a shower and goes to bed. And this is a constant, daily routine. It never changes. On Sunday, we go to church and then come home, we take a nap, and then it's back to work again on Monday morning. Our daughter is nine and we are not communicating and life is speeding by in this monotonous routine." What happens when the leader of the home fails to do his job? Well, what happens to a corporation when the president of the corporation fails to do his job? The corporation declines, and a family declines. And when a family starts declining and other families start declining, the nation declines, because the nation can be no stronger than the sum of its individuals. And our nation is on the decline. And I don't say that all of the blame is to be placed upon the men but certainly, men, God would have us take a stand like Joshua, unlike Abraham in this, and say, "Wait a minute. We're going to wait on God. As for me and my house we shall serve the Lord and we're not going to be strayed from that at all." Now, a lot of people do rebel against this idea of spiritual authority in the home. Some men and some women. In fact, in marriage ceremonies today, it is almost blasphemous for people to hear the word submit. "Do you promise to love and to submit to this man?" "(Gasp) Did you hear what he said honey? He said submit!" Like that's a dirty word. Well I'm sorry but that's God's order. And the family will work best when a man decides to be responsible for his wife and his kids before the Lord and the wife is in submission. That does not mean that he is a taskmaster and he has a whip (whip sound) "Submit." And a lot of men pull this, don't we men? We know how to say at just the right convenient time when our opinion isn't agreed upon, "Submit." Now we use that way out of context. The word submit means to respond to something. It means that as the man is loving his wife as Christ loved the church, the wife responds in submission. You know why? Because he's under submission under the Lord. And a wife should submit to a husband when he is in submission to the Lord. If he says, "Don't read your Bible. Don't go to church." Don't submit to that, ladies. You submit to the Lord and you submit to your husband as he's submitted to the Lord. But you get a family where he's in tune with God. And he's taking leadership and she responds to that, it's beautiful. That's God's definition of submission. There's a beautiful old proverb that I like to quote at weddings. "Woman was not taken from man's feet, to be walked on by him. Nor was she taken from man's head to be above him, but she was taken from his side, that she might be next to him in union with him, close to his heart and protected by it." Now, whether you are married this morning or single, we all have that position of waiting upon the Lord. And in following God into the Promised Land like Abram, that's going to take some tough times of waiting. And in those tough times of waiting, what we need more than anything else is that spiritual stamina to endure, to stick it out, because we have Jesus who is watching us.
I heard about a small group of musicians, minstrels, in the days when there were kings and queens in the medieval times. There was a group of musicians that would travel from town to town and put on concerts. Things were getting rough for them. The economy was depressed, and there weren't many people who were showing up at their concerts. They were getting very discouraged. See, they were waiting for the big break. And they were waiting and waiting and it was years and years and they travelled all around and as the economy was more depressed and the common person couldn't go buy a ticket to the concert, fewer people showed up to listen to them. And so, one evening, in a small village, the minstrel team got together, the performers sat around the table and said, "You know, I don't think we should open tonight. This is getting very discouraging. We've been doing this for years and the audiences are getting fewer and fewer. And what makes it worse is it's right now beginning to snow. Now last night, we had a tiny audience. Tonight we're going to have probably nothing." The other guy said, "Yeah I agree. I mean, how long do we have to stick this thing out before we see results? Let's give people their meager money back and let's just not do it. I mean, you can't expect us to do our best when you have just a few people." And they turned to another guy and they said, "Well, what do you think?" The other guy was a little older, wiser fellow and he said, "You know what, wait a minute. I think we owe it to the people who bought the tickets and are coming to this little concert tonight in this little hall to do our best. We promised them we'd do it. It's not their fault that other people don't come. Let's give it our gusto. Let's do our best." And so, he kind of encouraged them, pepped them up, and they were ready to do the concert. That night they just sung and danced their heart out. It was the best performance they've ever had. And afterwards, the small audience had left, the older man came up with a little note in his hand, gathered the troops together and he said, "Listen to this." There was an electricity in his voice. The note simply said, "Thank you for the wonderful performance. Signed, your King." The King had been there that night watching. Our King is watching us. He knows what He's doing. Father knows best. And before you think, "I've gotta help God do His job," which is another way oftentimes of saying, "I'm tired of waiting, I'd rather do it myself," just remember that you have an audience. The King. And He knows what He's doing. Let's pray.
Heavenly Father, I pray that we would be encouraged today to press on toward that mark. Whether we are single or whether we are married, husband and wife like Abram and Sarah. Whether we have known You for a month or whether we have known You for many years, even those of us who are spiritual leaders, like Abraham was, Lord, we see can fail. Help us, Lord, not to do Your work in the energy of our flesh but to pause and get really direction from You; vision for our households. Cause us, Lord as men, to take leadership and Lord, help wives to submit to a submissive husband. Lord, renew and restore our marriages and our relationships and more than anything else cause us, Lord, to establish a close relationship with You. In Jesus name, Amen.