January 30, 2016

Today you should read: Genesis 21:8-34

When it Feels Wrong, but is Still Right

Abraham shows his trust in God, again.  In our passage, Abraham is in a bit of a predicament. He wants to do what is right for his son Ishmael, but what feels right is not what’s best.

Sarah wants Ishmael gone, because he is not her real son.  Abraham is hesitant to send him away, because he wants to do what’s right for Ishmael.  Yet God tells Abraham to do what Sarah says, because that’s what God says is best.  

So what does Abraham do??  He listens to God, regardless of what he feels.         

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

Sometimes in life, we are hesitant to make hard decisions because they feel “wrong.”  Maybe it’s disciplining our kids.  Maybe it’s following God’s call, even when it leaves loved one’s behind.  Maybe it’s telling someone the truth about and pointing out sin, even when you love them.  Maybe it’s refusing to take part in what your friends are doing, because what they are doing is ungodly.  

It may feel “wrong” to make those decisions because we love the people involved, just like it felt wrong for Abraham to send Ishmael away.  But, in the end God knows what is best.  His plans are best, even when they are hard.  And just because decisions are hard, it doesn’t always mean that they are wrong, even when they feel like it.  

God knew it was best to send Ishmael away, even though Abraham wanted to care for him and Hagar.  God knew it was best for Isaac to be the son of promise, even when Abraham was emotionally torn.  God’s way is best, even when it is emotionally difficult.  

Here is a question we can ask ourselves, today:

What do I place my trust in more often, in my feelings and perspective, or God’s truth and plans?

By: Sam Cirrincione

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Author: cpclexington

Lexington & Richmond KY

6 thoughts on “January 30, 2016”

  1. Thanks Sam! I read this passage in a whole new light today. Hagar and Ishmael were the product of a very bad decision that Abraham made. Even though letting them go was the best plan, he still felt obligated to care for them. I think sometimes there are pieces of our past that God is asking us to step out of so that we can walk into his new plan for us. I’ve had to do that a few times in the recent past. It felt wrong, but letting those things go and allowing God to prove himself faithful was usually the right choice.

  2. “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.”

    Scripture tells us several interesting things regarding Ishmael.
    1) God will make a great nation from his descendants
    2) Ishmael will be a wild donkey of a man in constant conflict with his neighbors (Gen. 16:12)
    3) Ishmael marries a woman from Egypt.

    So how do we reconcile this in 2016? The descendants of Ishmael are modern day Arabs who are nearly 100% followers of Islam. (which explains the constant conflict from Gen. 16:12) Yet God promises to make a great nation from Ishmael’s descendants. Great in number? Great in impact on the world? Obviously I believe God’s promise is through Abraham / Isaac / Jacob (Israel) / King David / Jesus. No doubt we should make every effort to share the gospel with the sons of Ishmael but how do we reconcile God’s promise to Hagar & Ishmael?

    Thanks for the commentary today Sam!

    1. Great words guys! Mike, those are great questions. We definitely know Ishmael’s descendants will be the “Muslim nation,” we definitely know that God chose Isaac (the son of God’s efforts) rather than Ishmael (the son of human effort), we definitely know that Abraham loved him and wanted his well being, we even know God heard their cry, and we ***know*** the offspring (singular) of Isaac will bless the “sons of Ishmael” (a basis of Christian missions to Muslims).

      So, what did God mean in “great?” I think it had to mean “great in population” rather than “great in godliness or blessing.” Although I’m not sure, because this is a tough text, that seems right.

      Then question is why would God multiply this nation? How is that right? I don’t know, but I know God multiplies humans and we’re all sinful. Again, Ishmael was a result of taking matters into human hands rather than trusting God’s.

      I think what matters is the offspring of Isaac (of Abraham) is the blessing promised, for the whole world, even for the descendants of Ishmael. So we should reach the descendants of Ishmael through the descendant of Isaac.

      1. Great answer, Sam! God doesn’t always give us nice clean answers to the mysteries in scripture. Regardless of our understanding, we are commissioned to take the gospel to the descendants of Ishmael. (Arabs & Muslims). No doubt the promise for the entire world is thru Abraham / Isaac / Jacob (Israel) / King David / Jesus. Let’s get busy sharing Jesus & building disciples!

  3. That is a great question to think on today. Often, I too want to go with what I feel is best. Good or bad. And sometimes I do give into my feelings. Other times, though, if I let the feelings pass, I can more clearly see God’s plans.

  4. What a blessing, a little time studying the Word today…

    Why must Abraham even consider sending Hagar and Ishmael away?
    Galatians 4:29 helps our understanding a little by clarifying from “mocking” to “persecution.” Laughing at his name, treating him with contempt as his younger brother, boasting that he was the firstborn, that the inheritance belonged to him; and threatening what he would do to him, should he hereafter offer to dispute it with him (John Gill). Under the impulse of irritated or resentful feelings, in which he was probably joined by his mother, treated the young heir with derision and probably some violence (JFB). Scripture argues a disposition in Ishmael to be abusive to a child that was no way a match for him. (Matthew Henry)

    This is a grievous behavior from a 16-18 year old, is it not? How long can a family continue under such a burden? No matter how sinful a family may be, what a heavy heart the father must have for the son! Many a believer might know, to this very hour, the difficulty of living the Christian life under such strife and discord.

    To youth’s character: “Mocking is a great sin, and very provoking to God. Ishmael was fourteen years older than Isaac; and, when children are together, the elder should be careful and tender of the younger. ” – (Matthew Henry)

    To the believer: the Church’s precedence for Christ alone. “The Church of those who are born after the spirit of faith endures many trials from those who are in bondage to the righteousness of the law.” –(Matthew Henry)

    To dad who leads: The wife’s priority. “On a former occasion Abraham’s hearkening unto Sarah’s voice had led to sin (Gen_16:2); this time it would lie exactly in the line of duty.” – (Pulpit)

    How great it must be: this price for peace, the Prince of Peace.

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