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Return and Submit

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This past Sunday, I got the opportunity to repent – not just to my pastors, but to the entire church for not being in my place. 

I had some things in common with Hagar, Sarai’s handmaid (but not anymore).  She was the one chosen to bear Sarai and Abram’s child.  But after Hagar got pregnant, I think she started to smell herself.  No, really.  I think she either felt herself equal to Sarai (as she had become Abram’s wife to bear his child) or she thought she was better than Sarai because she was able to do something that Sarai wasn’t able to do, which was to carry Abram’s child.

She was blessed with such an honor to carry their child, but she forgot who she was.  She forgot she was still Sarai’s handmaid.  She became too familiar with her.  Hagar’s problem was she no longer respected the anointing on Sarai’s life.  She didn’t honor the woman of God. 

Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine (1 Timothy 5:17).

Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you (Hebrews 13:17).

Sarai was not some mere woman.  When God spoke concerning Sarai, He said, ‘I will bless her and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her’ (Genesis 17:16).  Hagar may have been the new wife, but Sarai was still the ‘first lady’. 

Sarai didn’t like Hagar’s attitude and disrespect towards her so she told Abram about it.  Abram, being the smart man he was, changed his name to Bennett.  My name is Bennett and I ain’t in it.  Just joking. But seriously, he told his wife that he was going to stay out of it, that she was her maid and this was between them. 

When Sarai took matters into her own hands, Hagar ran away.  I can only imagine what Hagar was thinking when she left.  Who does she think she is?  She can’t have no baby.  I’m having his baby.  They are going to need me before I need them. 

But do you know what I loved most about this passage of scripture? 

Abram didn’t run after Hagar to try to convince her to come back.  Sarai didn’t run after her, crying and begging her to come back.  I don’t know how long Hagar was in the wilderness, but I do know it was good for her to be there because there were some things in her that needed to die and where she was caused her to grow up. No one took her position or her place, but if she really wanted it – if she was really serious this time, she was going to have to return to the place she left and take it back.

One day, the angel of the Lord found Hagar in the wilderness and asked her two questions:

1) Where did you come from?

2) Where are you going?

She didn’t have a problem answering the first question, but she couldn’t answer the second question because she didn’t know what she was going to do.  She didn’t have a plan because she ran from the plan that was created for her. 

Now I know that Isaac was the plan and he was the promise of God, but when Sarai told her husband to marry her handmaid, Abram came in agreement with it and God honored it.  (I didn’t say God liked her idea, but He honored it).  At any time, God could have stopped this plan and He could have shut up Hagar’s womb, but He didn’t.  He allowed it to be because that was what Sarai wanted. 

By asking the above questions, the Lord wanted her to realize that she was going the wrong way – that she needed to change her direction.  I don’t think Hagar wanted to remain in the wilderness, but she may have been too proud to go back.  But God dealt with her.  He spoke to her through an angel.  Return to your mistress and submit yourself.  What he was really saying was:

You were wrong, Hagar.  Go back. 

You were wrong, Hagar.  Apologize.

You were wrong, Hagar.  Make it right.

But maybe she was afraid.  What was Sarai going to do to her once she returned?  What were the people going to say?  Would Abram and Sarai receive her back?

So, the angel gave her a word that gave her the confidence to go back.  I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count  (Genesis 16:10, AMP).  That was God’s way of letting her know:

I see you (Genesis 16:13).

I haven’t forgotten you.

I didn’t leave you. You left Me.

You’re still a part of the plan.

I haven’t taken back what I gave you (Ishmael). 

I will still use you.

I will bless you.

So, Hagar got back in her place and in her position and I’ve decided to do the same. Please know that repentance was just the first step.  Even after Hagar returned to her mistress, there were things she had to do and there will be things that I will have to do because Hagar didn’t see what the angel said until she did what the angel said.   

 

[Scripture reference: Genesis 16]

You Can’t Run from It

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In the book of Genesis, Hagar was in the wilderness on two separate occasions, but I don’t want to talk about the day she was sent away.  I want to talk about the day she ran away.

Abram and Sarai had been living in Canaan for ten years and there still wasn’t a baby.  Since Sarai wasn’t able to get pregnant, she thought it would be a good idea for her maid to carry a child for her so she gave Hagar to her husband to be his wife.   According to Genesis 16:4, Hagar looked down on Sarai once she became pregnant.  She became proud, arrogant and disrespectful.  Maybe Hagar didn’t realize that it was an honor and a privilege to be chosen to carry this child. Maybe she forgot that this child wasn’t hers – that she was carrying it for someone else.  I know some of you may feel that Sarai got what she deserved for giving her maid to her husband in the first place, but that doesn’t justify Hagar’s behavior.  Yes, she was carrying Abram’s child, but she was still the maid.  She was still a slave, someone paid the price for her and she didn’t belong to herself anymore.

Sarai complained about Hagar to Abram and he basically told her, I’m out of this.  That is your maid.  This is between you and her.  You deal with her.  And that’s exactly what Sarai did.  The bible tells us that Sarai dealt harshly with her.  Now if you’ve ever watched a movie or read a book about slavery, then you know that most slaves who didn’t submit to their owners were beaten.  Sarai beat Hagar’s body to bring it into subjection (submission), but because it didn’t feel good to her flesh, Hagar ran away.

The angel of the Lord found Hagar in the wilderness by a fountain of water and asked, Where did you come from and where are you going?  Hagar told the angel where she was running from, but she never told him where she was running to.  That’s because Hagar didn’t know where she was going.  It looked like she was going to be a single mother raising a baby all by herself.  She didn’t know what to do.  She didn’t have it all planned out yet.  She was lost and unsure, but the angel gave her directions.  He told her to go back to what she ran from.  Return to your mistress and submit yourself under her hands  (Genesis 16:9)

Do you think it was easy for Hagar to go back?  It probably wasn’t easy at first.  I don’t think she got excited and ran back home, but when the angel of the Lord told her about her future, it gave her hope.  From you will come many people – too many people to count  (Genesis 16:10). She was just about to give up, but when the angel gave her a word, not only did she believe again, but she acted on what she believed.  She did what the angel told her to do.  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves  (James 1:22).  When we resist God and reject His word and don’t do what He asks of us, we (NOT the devil) delay His words.  We delay His promises from coming to pass in our lives.

Lazy people don’t inherit the promises of God.  You receive what God has promised through faith and patience (Hebrews 6:12).  Can you imagine what it must have felt like for Sarai to try and try again, year after year, only to never conceive while Hagar conceived the very first time she slept with Abram?  It doesn’t surprise me that Sarai got upset or became jealous of her maid.  It seemed like God was doing it for Hagar and everybody else, but when was He going to do it for her?  Sarai was 65 years old when God appeared to Abram and promised him a son and Isaac finally came when she was 90 years old.

The promise won’t come easy, but it shall surely come.

I’m sure there was disappointment, tears and frustration.  Abram and Sarai trusted more in their flesh than they trusted in their God and God couldn’t do what He wanted to do until their will and their ways died.  There was a period of waiting, but it wasn’t them waiting on God. It was God waiting on them. He waited until Abram was good as dead (Hebrews 11:12).  He waited until Sarah’s womb was dead (Romans 4:19).  He waited until they totally relied on Him.  Then, He performed what He promised.  This promise was going to be born of the Spirit, not of the flesh.  I know some of you are trying to make it work or trying to fix it or trying to make things happen on your own, but what God has promised you will not be done by your might or by your power.  It will only be done by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

Hagar didn’t spend a lot of years in the wilderness like the children of Israel.  She didn’t go around the same mountain year after year.  She humbled herself, turned, got back in her rightful place and gave Sarai the respect and honor she deserved.  Hagar may have messed up, but she didn’t give up.

You can make excuses like Moses, you can run like Jonah and you can wrestle like Jacob, but you’re not going to win.  You can run, but you can’t hide.  God sees you (Genesis 16:13). You can’t run away from the calling, your assignment, your responsibility or the word that God has spoken concerning you.  Follow the example of Hagar. Instead of running away from God (His plan, process and purpose), run to God and submit yourself under HIS hands.

Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will run from you  (James 4:7)