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Dear Christian friends,
When I served King of Kings Lutheran Church inFlorida, we did a building and expansion project. We built some classrooms and a gym; we expanded the church. We had a special dedication weekend. On Saturday we had family. We wanted to get people onto our campus. We had rides and entertainment. Yes, we sold tickets very cheaply and promised that all proceeds would go to a program that was against spousal abuse. We were able to donate $3400 to them from our family weekend. I know it sounds like bragging but I personally was very key in raising those funds. I sacrificed myself by being in the dunk tank. At a quarter a shot, I think I made $1500 for the cause. I realized how glad I am to be a Lutheran. I have theological reasons but I also have an aversion to Baptism by immersion.
A few weeks after dedication weekend, we had a representative come to our church so we could present the organization against Spousal Abuse with the check at the end of the worship service. A woman very dedicated to this organization accepted the check. As we presented her with the check she said she looked around at our congregation and said how pleasant it was to see so many men with their families. She often saw only moms and children. She knew that much of the blame on broken families stems from the fact that husbands and wives aren’t in church or only one comes to church with the family.
Today we again join Abraham’s road trip. While he was indeed a great man of faith, he sure wasn’t perfect. In fact, he teaches us “Even the Best Men Need Jesus.” Look what happens 1) when men make plans without God; 2) why every plan needs the Lord.
Again I have a map on the inside of the back cover of the bulletin. Abraham was called from Ur, went to Haran, went to Shechem and then to Bethel. Today we find him in Egypt. There was a reason. “Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.” Abraham was better than seventy five years old; Sarah was sixty five plus. In other words they had been around the block a few times. They knew and experienced the trials of life. They were in the middle of a famine.
They left forEgypt. TheNileRiver was and still is the lifeblood ofEgypt. The water and all the silt and the soil that comes from the mountains in Central Africa make for rich and fertile fields along theNile. It did then; it does now. Five percent of the land along the Nile feeds the rest ofEgypt. Abraham fledCanaan so he and his considerable flocks could survive.
But as Abraham got close to Egypt’s borders a terrible thought came to mind. “As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” There is just no way of saying this without inserting my foot into my mouth. Hey, isn’t it reasonable to think that a woman who is 65+ years is probably more beautiful on the inside than on the outside? Sarah had retained that beauty on the outside too. Pharaohs and kings in ancient days were measured by power and riches and how many women they had in their harems. Although forbidden in Scripture one wife was not enough. Even though Sarah was 65+ she qualified as a fox.
So Abraham thought he would be proactive. She’s my sister thinking that Pharaoh would have evil designs on her that would lead to his death. The hole that he dug only got bigger and bigger. Pretty soon Abraham was treating beautiful Sarah like a piece of meat. He really made her feel good about their relationship, didn’t he? If she became Pharaoh’s play toy, she could save Abraham’s life. Not only that, if she dolled herself up for Pharaoh, she might fetch him a few hundred cattle or sheep besides. “I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” Hey Sarah, I could make a financial killing.
There is a wildly popular book entitled “Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars.” The title tells us what the book is about – how different men are from women and how different women are from men. But you know what? Abraham’s strategy really seemed to indicate he really was from Mars. What value did Sarah have for Abraham? She was his ticket to safety and the bank.
If these were the only verses that talked about Abraham in the Bible, We would know him as male chauvinist to the nth degree. ChristianMingle.com wouldn’t touch him. Abraham would never wear a T-shirt that said World’s #1 Husband.
Yet the Lord also said this in another place in the Bible about Abraham “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son.” The Lord is talking about exactly the same man. How can this be?
Men! Women! Abraham was like you and I are. Godly side and selfish sinful side! Paul said it like this, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Sometimes that old sinful really controls. The battle between the two goes on. That old sinful flesh is there and on this side of the grave will always be there. As strange as it may sound, this is a truth: Jesus won the war for us, but we still fight battles. And we lose our share, unfortunately.
While we celebrate Dad’s day today, Dads, remember your family might think of you as number one dad. I hope they do, but neither you nor I are perfect dads. No one is. That title belongs only to our Heavenly Father. In the meantime, remember how desperately we need Jesus.
I remember taking a seminar on planning. They used an acronym PPA. It stood for potential problem area. Abraham had it right, didn’t he? “When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.”
Look at the mess he made because he did not consult the Lord. Men nowadays at least get to sleep on the sofa. Sarah probably made Abraham to sleep with all the sheep and camels and cattle and donkeys that he got at her expense. If we think that a wife is good to have so they can be chauffeur, gardener, family counselor, maintenance worker, cleaning woman, housekeeper, cook, errand runner, bookkeeper/budget manager, interior decorator, caterer, dietitian, secretary, public relations person, hostess, nanny,” then welcome to the couch. Besides Jesus she is God’s most important gift for you.
He also dragged the Lord’s name through the mud. Abraham was an ambassador of the Lord. This is the same man who built altars to the Lord in Canaan so the people inCanaanwould know the Lord. He didn’t do so well inEgypttestifying about the Lord, did he?
But there is an even more important point. Remember that the Lord had give Sarah and Abraham the promise that “in his offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed.” We talked about that last week. An offspring would be born of Abraham that connected eventually to the Messiah and Savior Jesus. While he was afraid that he was going to die, Abraham couldn’t die. There was no offspring yet.
Besides, doesn’t God say in the New Testament that in the marriage relationship is like Christ to his church? The husband is like Christ. The wife is like the church. Didn’t Christ die for the church? God made man to be the head and protector. Abraham, why weren’t you ready to lead and to protect? Men, how good are you at carrying out that role?
Even The best of men need Christ. And God came to Abraham’s rescue. “But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.” This wasn’t a pretty sight. Pharaoh came to the conclusion that the God of Abraham was warning him loud and clear. By taking Sarah to himself caused the Lord to bring a disaster to the royal palace. Some sort of disease afflicted Pharaoh’s family. Pharaoh figured it out.
What came after was also not pretty. The father of all believers was raked over the coals by a heathen king as Abraham was escorted to the border and told to get out of town and stay out of town.
Martin Luther once said that “Satan likes to climb the fence where it is the lowest.” Abraham’s faith was low relying way too much on himself instead of consulting with the Lord. Fortunately the Lord also knows what frail and human creatures we really are. The loyal and gracious God we have rescued Abraham. God does the same for us. He sent Jesus. Jesus is God’s gift to you on Father’s Day and every day of the year.
Even the best of men need Jesus to forgive and guide. He not only forgives us but he also guides us. Be a man of God. Humble yourselves, men! Repent of the failures as Abraham needed to do so. Humbly accept the help that God gives from the savior who died for you and humbly accept God’s instructions from the book he gives us.