May 2 2012
Genesis 15.1-6, 16.1-5, 17.15-21
Pilots are taught to trust their instruments rather than their natural senses. This is especially important at night or in heavy cloud where they cannot see ahead. Often under these conditions pilots experience something called vertigo; the feeling that the aircraft is doing the opposite to what their instruments say. If it happens in a moment of panic a pilot might react with natural instincts and ignore his instruments. This can be disastrous; many pilots have crashed because they did not trust their instruments. Did you ever feel like you were flying blind? Did you know you have spiritual instruments?
♦ Abraham was told to trust his spiritual instruments, God promised he would have a son, but after a long period of waiting everything seemed dark. There was no child and Sarah was getting edgy. Under pressure he put what God had shown him aside and let his natural instincts take over. He took control and arranged a son by sleeping with Sarah’s servant Hagar. Hagar became a problem as did Ishmael; the child that was born. Sound familiar? Did you ever stop believing and start controlling?
When we fear that what God said is not going to happen we start to manipulate; we try to do it our way. This causes unnecessary problems for ourselves and those around us, and can cause us to lose the very thing we are after. This doesn’t just happen with a desire for children, it can also happen with our desire for a partner, a job, anything.
The word ‘manipulate’ means: to control or influence somebody in a dishonest or unfair way in order to get what we want. We don’t believe we will get it the direct route so we try another way. In John 10.1-2 the thief does not go through the gate, he climbs in another way. He does not go the obvious route because he knows he will be rejected. And often it’s when we fear rejection that we start to manipulate and control. If we fear we won’t get the job by telling the truth, we lie. If we fear we might lose the man we want, we arrange to fall pregnant, and try to secure things that way. This is trying to control or influence in a dishonest or unfair way. And when our deception is exposed; we lose what we were after: the person feels manipulated and drops us. When flying in the dark, we must trust our spiritual instruments. God has given us his Word and his Spirit, so we know how to behave when the pressure is on.
Manipulation can be physical, such as beating your wife; or emotional, such as giving your husband ‘the silent treatment’; or spiritual, such as engaging in witchcraft. Emotional manipulation is the most common, spiritual manipulation happens a lot here in Africa. But it’s a dangerous thing to get into; people visiting witchdoctors only end up destroying themselves. Saul visited a witch in a moment of manipulation and ended up taking his life. He had abandoned his spiritual instruments.
Kenya suffers from a culture of manipulation. When it’s hard to do business without bribing you can be sure you are in a culture of manipulation. The extent of manipulation here has even impacted our personal relationships; people think that ‘doing a favour to get a favour’ is a part of normal life. People pretend to be doing something out of the goodness of their hearts, but they are really doing it with the expectation that you will return the favour. But a favour with strings attached is not a favour; and a gift that has a hidden cost is really a sale. We have some serious repenting to do.
I said fear causes us to manipulate, but we have this fear because we stand to lose something we desperately want: our idol. Abraham desired a son so much he was prepared to manipulate to get one; it was his idol. After receiving Isaac, the promised son, God sets Abraham another test. In Genesis 22.1-3, 10-12 God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Ouch! Talk about flying in the dark! But this time Abraham trusts his spiritual instruments; he puts his precious son in God’s hands, and having past the test, God gives Isaac back to him again. The story ends with Abraham’s statement of faith: The Lord will provide! (vs 14) As a pilot, Abraham learnt the hard way.
The only way to destroy the fear of losing your idol is to sacrifice it. Your idol is the thing in life that you want most. God cannot let you have it till you give it up.
In 1 Samuel 24.1-7 David gets it right the first time. God has promised him he will be king, but Saul is king and is hunting him. When David gets the perfect opportunity to reverse things and kill Saul, he refuses to do it. Killing Saul would be taking control; it would be an attempt to make it happen. David spares Saul and trusts God. Saul eventually takes his own life. While flying in the dark, David trusted his spiritual instruments.
If God has spoken he will do it. We are to wait. If he requires us to do something, he will tell us what to do, and what he says will be right and good.
Are you manipulating things? Are you trying to take control? First admit it to yourself and God. Half the battle is won if you can see it in yourself; at least you’re not self-deceived. Next, confess it to those it has affected. That can be hard to do, but it smashes its evil hold. Then give up the idol; whatever it is that has caused you to do it. Lay it at his Jesus’ feet; let him have control; let him bring it to pass. Abraham failed the first test, but passed the second one; so there is hope for all of us.
Do you feel like you’re flying in the dark; trust your spiritual instruments.
Word for Vineyard Mombasa: God wants us to be like sparkling water – pure, transparent, simple, and refreshing to all around us.
Illustrations: The aircraft that almost wasn’t; A crush goes horribly wrong; A diving footballer; A nice leather jacket; A man’s best friend; Sparkling water; Laying down your weapon.
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