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Massive ministry malfunction

November 13, 2016

Abram made a decision.

Abram decided to prostitute his wife.

Decisions must be made for the gospel to go forth into all the world.

However, I think we would all agree, we must make decisions and form strategies that never reach the backwardness and panicked self-reliance of our patriarch of the faith.

Right after God chose Abram to be a recipient of His great grace in order to bless the nations, Abram took the plan into his own hands. (Genesis 12:1-3, 12:10-20)

Reading this passage, most of my life I thought Abraham was a scaredy-cat who would use such words as scaredy-cat.

I took him for a man who was extremely selfish and only looked out for number one. “Oh!, I might die….here wife…just…just…say you’re my sister….yeah….you’re so beautiful…they will not be able to resist and I’ll be spared.”

Why would Abram do this?

John Calvin thinks it likely that Abraham was not attempting to protect his own life, but to protect the promise of God.

Abraham would be a mighty nation and would bless the nations.

Calvin warns against this reasoning and the danger of turning away from God’s word and ways. (Calvin, Genesis Commentary, pg 267)

I can imagine Abraham’s thinking, ”If I die, how will God fulfill His promises?” So, zealously he devised a strategy where, even if it broke his heart and spirit of his wife, he was willing to lay down his family for the sake of the promise.

He tried to out strategize God. He thought he was doing the right thing, or the only thing possible, and was even willing to suffer for it. His plan went outside the bounds of God’s ways: lying, prostituting his wife, etc.

Abram needed to trust the God of providence. He needed to leave the protecting of the promise to God by submitting to His ways. He counted the cost, but it looks like he was counting on his fingers like a child new to math. And isn’t that just like us?

None of us are above Abram. None. Of. Us.

We are all sinners in need of God’s great grace, in need of Abraham’s descendant, Jesus! We are all in need of God’s daily truth for each day’s situations, problems, and opportunities and we all need God’s guidance for our campus.

This story has within it a great lesson for all of us.

Do not use the Lord’s Name in vain for the sake of our ministry and what we think God is calling us to do.

How are you potentially trying to out strategize God by trusting in your ways of what seems best?

Questions to help safeguard our strategies:

  • Does your ministry reflect a broad picture of God’s character and ways?
  • Is there ever a check in your spirit when brainstorming with your ministry team?
    • What do you do with that check? Get it out into the open for conversation and understanding. A good team will want this type of humble questioning.
  • Are your results oriented in ways that are making old convictions look like fads rather than wisdom? While we will not all have the same convictions and our consciences will vary, we should never let a conviction go easily.
  • Are you forsaking the study of God’s Word, fervent prayer, and confession of sin?
  • What are the certain campus results that, if you don’t see them happen, you will crumble?
  • Whose glory are we really seeking?
  • What Gospel truths are you forgetting? (4 Gs from Tim Chester’s book You Can Change)
    • God is great- so we don’t have to be in control
    • God is glorious- so we don’t have to fear others
    • God is good-so we don’t’ have to look elsewhere
    • God is gracious- so we don’t have to prove ourselves
  • How do you speak with and relate to those on your ministry team? Are you showing the love of God through respect, care, and celebration? Or are you lording over them with harsh words, little care, and insults….all for the sake, somehow, of bettering the ministry?
  • Are you possibly sacrificing your family in a way that God is not asking you to do? “But Lord, you called me to this, so you must be OK with my wife and children receiving little attention and love.”

God can manage without us. But, God desires to use us!

May we repent from our strategies that do not line up with God’s will. By faith, let us trust that He who created the world, bled for the world, and redeems the world, can best plan for the world.

May we strategize, plan, risk and execute in such a way that we would be in constant need of evaluation, prayer, repentance and adjustment.

God redeemed Abram’s massive strategy malfunction. He can redeem ours, regardless of the size. Abraham became a mighty man of faith. May the gospel go forth! May we faithfully proclaim the Promise.