OPEN OUR EYES
Summary of the Sermon by Pastor Christianto Silitonga, Pastor, Deputy Head of Cell Group Ministry (COOL), Jl. Gatot Subroto Jakarta, at Bethany International Service, on Sunday, 25 February 2018.
This theme for our church this month is to conquer our promised land. Sadly, there are a lot of Christians who fail in their spiritual journey – they simply don’t grow. When God promises to give us something new, we have to respond correctly as a ground to receive His promises.
1. GOD MAKES CHANGES HAPPEN IN OUR LIFE
God called Abraham to go to the Promised Land; Abraham received personal instructions from the LORD and God’s promises to become a great nation. Despite that he took Sarah’s advice to have a child through her maid. It was customary in those days that the child born of a slave can be adopted by the master. Sarah had waited for a long time to conceive, she was impatient and could not wait. Hagar became pregnant and she started to look down on Sarah for being barren. Hagar had forgotten her status as a slave even though she bore an heir for Abraham. Despite that God still had a plan to bless Ishmael as a father of twelve rulers and a great nation.
Then the Lord took pity on Sarah and she bore Isaac when Abraham was 100 years of age. After Isaac was born, Sarah turned against Hagar and she told Abraham to drive out Hagar and Ishmael. This matter distressed Abraham greatly, but since Abraham’s descendants would come through Isaac, Abraham had no choice but to let Hagar and Ishmael go. It may seem cruel but in fact Abraham did provide an inheritance for Ishmael as well. When Hagar failed to raise Ishmael in the right direction to be a father of twelve rulers, God intervened and made changes happen in Ishmael’s life so that he could be blessed.
2. GOD USES OUR UNPLEASANT CIRCUMSTANCES TO GROW SPIRITUALLY MATURE
When Hagar and Ishmael were sent away, they departed and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba. Hagar wept as they had ran out of water and she pleaded with God not to let Ishmael die in front of her own eyes. Then the Angel of God appeared to Hagar from heaven and said to Hagar that God would also make a great nation of Ishmael. In Genesis 21:19, God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well of water. Sometimes we may be so focused and overwhelmed by our circumstances that we may fail to see the solution that God has placed in front of us.
Ask God to open the eyes of our hearts to see His great plans for each one of us. Ask the Holy Spirit to help us respond correctly to our situation. Sometimes God uses our unpleasant situation to make us trust Him more. Our God understands us, and He sees our very being deep inside us. God has a greater purpose for us than what our eyes can see. God wants us to become a living testimony of His great hands and love. See the hands of God above our situation, be discerning, and be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Remember that in Philippians 4:19, “For God is able to supply all our needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.”