In Genesis 16, we read about a problem in Abraham’s home. In fact, the tension or contention became so distressful that Hagar, Sarai’s maid, felt that she needed to, or she had to, flee. She didn’t feel that she could take it any longer, and we find her in the 7th verse where it says, “And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And He said, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? And whither wilt thou go?’ And she said, ‘I flee from the face of my mistress, Sarai.’ And the angel of the Lord said unto her, ‘Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.’ And the angel of the Lord said unto her, ‘I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.'”
Hagar felt that the solution to her problem was to flee, but the angel of the Lord told her that the solution to her situation, to her problem, was to return and submit, and then the Lord would bless her exceedingly. Well, if I was going to sum up my message for today, it would just be this: return, submit, and the Lord will bless you exceedingly.
In James 4:7 it says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” It seems like by our human nature, like we heard last night, we have a tendency to resist God and submit to the devil. We’re thankful for the gospel that came into our lives, that gave us a power by the spirit of God that we can resist the devil, and can submit to God.
We’re thankful for these meetings like we’ve heard, that there’s something in us that has responded to the messages. Something alive that God has placed there, that wants to submit to God. Now sometimes, we feel that we’ve been stretched, that we just cannot take it anymore. We’ve been stretched beyond our capability, our capacity, like a string on a violin that’s being tuned, that’s being stretched, and we just feel that we’re right at the breaking point, but the Lord is bringing us into tune with heaven above. If we can submit, then we can have a part in the blessing that He would like to be to us as His people, and to this world. Maybe the part that I need to stress in speaking today is this blessing that He has promised to those who submit.
There is a verse there in Deuteronomy 7:9 that says, “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.” That’s a blessing from God, and not just for today, but His blessings stretch out and on. If we can be those who submit to God’s dealings and His leadings, His blessing will continue on to others. It’s like a pebble that drops, just a small little pebble. If you drop it into a basin of water, you’ll watch those ripples, how they go out and stretch out hundreds of times, maybe thousands of times bigger than that little pebble that was dropped. When the Lord deals with us and we submit, the influence of that is great and it goes out and stretches on and on. That is why it’s so important that when the Lord speaks to us we respond. You know the Lord sees the future ahead, and when He warns us, He sees the influence. We might feel it’s just a little thing, it doesn’t amount to anything, but He sees the future, what these things that we’ve allowed in our lives, the influence that could have in the days ahead, and He is trying to save us from that so that we won’t have regrets, for they go on and on and on. When He speaks to us about things that we could do, little things that we could practice and do, it is because He sees the future, and He knows the effect that can have stretching out, on and on, and like it says here, “to a thousand generations.” For we realize even what a little invitation could mean, and what a little invitation has meant to us. There was someone way back there, someone who felt moved to give an invitation to someone that we knew, someone perhaps in our family, and the change and the influence that has had, something so small. Now, when the Lord moves us to do something as we heard, we want to do that, lest we miss the wonderful blessing that comes with being submitted to His will, submitted to His dealings.
I was thinking of 3 small pebbles that could have a great influence in our lives. Pebbles that are small things are often overlooked that could have a tremendous influence in our lives and in the lives of others. One is in Hebrews 13:17, which speaks about submission there, it says, “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.” “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” Well, let’s speak about the workers, perhaps elders, too.
Let me tell you about my grandfather, this was many years ago. He heard the gospel, I suppose it would have been in the 30s (early 30s, late 20s) and he recognized that it was the truth of God, and he made his choice. After some time because of the situation in the home, in the meetings even, there was some correction given. The workers spoke to him about his children, that they needed to be disciplined – they were disorderly in the meeting, so much so that it was a concern. So they spoke to him and my grandfather – he was a proud man, became offended. No one was going to tell him how to raise his children. They did not believe in disciplining their children, and they were not going to start now, so he chose to just finish with the meetings, and he went outside taking his whole family with him. Out into the wilderness and there he stayed wandering where there was no blessing – there was NO blessing to that family. He watched his sons grow up to become helpless, hopeless alcoholics and it was years later when my grandfather finally – thankfully for cancer – began to feel his need. He felt he was dying. It is one thing to live without God, but it is another thing to die without God, that humbled my grandfather, that humbled him to the point where he called the workers again, and asked them to come. They did come and now he was ready to submit – he was ready for anything. The pride had been broken down and now he was just willing to fit in with anything – with everything – to have a part in this kingdom of God again. His question was, “Could God forgive someone who had been so negligent, who had rebelled, who had been so proud?” and the workers told him, “Yes there is still hope.” He was willing to submit. He was ready to submit. He found his peace again. He found his joy again, and then he was so anxious for my parents to attend. Well, he was anxious for all his children to attend the meetings, but only my parents did, and that was the beginning of the gospel for my family. I was just a little fellow at the time, but that was the beginning. I realize that all the blessing that I enjoy today, all my parents enjoy today, is because of that submission that came into my grandfather’s life in his last few months. How much more had he responded 20, 30 years before when those workers, in concern for him and his four little children and their future, gave him some godly advice? Think of the blessing that would have come through the years of submission, for one of those uncles could have been on the platform. Nothing is impossible with God! As it was, his days were lost, wasted in the wilderness and only regret at the close of his life.
I was thinking of another small pebble. In I Peter 5:5 it says, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” The thought there is, “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.” That’s the order, it’s not always easy, but that’s God’s order and that’s when blessing comes. This blessing that He has promised, comes from submitting.
Now, I shall tell you of a little struggle that I had: what if the younger one doesn’t submit to the older one? What is the solution? Submit! I had a companion once who didn’t fit in, and didn’t submit, and I was not about to submit, either! And you know that mission just dwindled to nothing, we couldn’t even go to bible study, we couldn’t, we could hardly continue with our gospel meetings. There was just no blessing in that relationship.
I am still just learning about submitting and humbling myself, and I appreciated a little picture we have over in Numbers 13:23, which says, “And they came.” This was the time when the spies were sent out, to search out the land, twelve were sent. Now they came to this place, it says, “And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff, and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.” Now this land, this land that they had found was so fruitful that there was a cluster of grapes that was so large, so great, that it took two men to carry it. Well, you may think, why not just cut the cluster in two and then each man could carry half, but that would not have had the same effect. When they came back there to the Lord’s people, they wanted to be an encouragement and wanted to be an inspiration to those people to go in to enter into that land, this land of promise, and so they wanted that cluster to be whole, entire so that those people could see the fruit of that land. So now these two (I like to think of them as Joshua and Caleb), it doesn’t say who they were, but they had that attitude of encouraging the Lord’s people; but anyway the two took this huge cluster of grapes on a pole, and you can kind of see them now, they’re going to be journeying, but they’re going to be walking together (up and down, over hill and through valleys) and making their way back to present this to the Lord’s people, so it would be necessary for them to be in step. If you’ve ever tried to carry something heavy and be out of step, it is almost impossible, it’s easier to just divide the load in two and each one go their separate way, but it doesn’t have the same effect. So these men would be walking together, in step, so that it’s not working against them or making it difficult for them – if the one behind wouldn’t be in step with the one before, it would be wise for the one before to just adjust his step to the step of the one behind, so that when they arrived that this that they were carrying. This that was so important, this that would inspire and help God’s people, would be whole, would be entire. Well, I realize that is very true with this that we carry, this wonderful gospel message, this wonderful fruit that one can find in God’s kingdom, and we present this to others, but we need to be in step, and if I need to humble myself and just adjust my step so that I could be in step with my companion, in communion with my companion, then we can present the gospel and we can inspire God’s people about what can be found in this wonderful kingdom of God. I realize that that is something that I need to do.
When I look back at some of my companions, when I was young, jumping at the bit and anxious to go, all these ideas that I had, then I can think of some of my dear companions, who would have adjusted their step for me. I did not even realize it at the time, but I can look back now and they were trying to encourage me, and trying to be a help to me, and it was a joy, such a joy to present the gospel. I realize now that is something I need to apply to myself. And you can see the blessing that comes when the gospel is presented – it just goes on and on and on! That’s the blessing that God has promised when we submit; if I think of myself, if I submit and humble myself, then this influence can go forth and others can enjoy what we’ve enjoyed.
Now we are going to go over to Ephesians 5:22, this is another small pebble that has a great influence, it says there in verses 21 and 22, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” And you dear women here who have happy marriages, you know what it means, you know the blessing that comes from submitting to your husbands. We are only seeing a portion of it, a measure of it, this is something that is going to extend to your family, to your children, your grandchildren, the effect of that goes out. It’s great, and you are only enjoying a measure of it, but the influence of it is vast and it goes on and it affects others. It speaks to others, inspires others, and if it isn’t there, it can take the joy right out of a marriage. It can destroy a marriage! And that destruction goes on too, it goes on and on, it affects the children, it affects others; but God has His order, it’s not easy to submit I know I struggle with it, but this order, if we submit, it brings blessing and that is what we long for – blessing, eternal blessing. There’s a little clue in this that has been a help to me, it’s in this little verse here, that says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord,” and that’s the secret: do it, “as unto the Lord.”
In Colossians is the same thought, it’s Colossians 3:23, says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done and there is no respect of persons.” It’s like this is a spiritual law, and there is no respecter of persons; those who submit, get the blessing, and those who don’t submit, have regrets. There is no respecter of persons. It says here, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men,” knowing that we’ll receive the reward from Him; and that’s the key: submitting as unto the Lord. I’ve been, well, we’ve all been in situations – we all know them – that we feel, “I’m not going to do it, I’m not going to submit, I won’t, I won’t.” That has not brought blessing, but we just feel like we can’t. Maybe you’re working for someone and you don’t respect them, and you’re just blocked. You feel, “I just can’t do it, and I won’t;” but when we think of doing it as unto the Lord, then it makes it altogether different.
I remember the time I’d offered for the work actually and I was waiting to go. One time I was driving down the freeway and thinking about things and the thought came to me, “Maybe Jay, this is all in your head, that the Lord hasn’t really called you, that you don’t have to give up everything, you could live a life that you’ve wanted to and this is all just something that’s just been fabricated in your imagination.” I remember that day. I relaxed in the car and was just enjoying the good weather and then it was just as if the Lord was sitting beside me in the car and He turned toward me and said, “Jay, would you do it for My sake; would you do it for Me?” Oh well, that just melted my heart! After what the Lord had saved me from, after all the Lord had delivered me from, and given me peace again. Well, that just melted me, it just melted my heart, and now it was settled. After that I never had another question, I never had another doubt. But what more is a person to sacrifice like that? Well, it is just because we love the Lord that we sacrifice, we are only limited in submitting, we are only limited by our love for the Lord. If we are doing it as unto the Lord, we can do anything. Isn’t that what Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” [Phillipians 4:13] because of his love for Jesus, he could do anything? We find ourselves in situations where the only blessing is going to come if we’re willing to submit, but if we do it for Jesus’ sake, we’ll find the power that we need, the power of love that we need to just submit. You folks, you apply that and you’ll be the best employees working! I remember working on a job and I just took that lesson I learned in the car, I took it with me to work and certain jobs needed to be done and no one was willing to do it, but I just felt that I wanted to serve as unto the Lord, and well, it works! And you’ll find yourself a treasured employee and whether it be at work or school, or wherever it is, if you can do all things as unto the Lord, you will find that there is a wonderful blessing that comes as a reward of it and the Lord’s promised that there would be a reward for doing it as unto Him.
Well let’s go back to this thought of Hagar sitting at the well, and here we’re sitting and it’s been restful, and it’s been good, we feel refreshed. But the message for this meeting anyway is that we need to return and submit and the Lord will bless us for doing so and that blessing is greater than we can comprehend, if we can just be faithful in that. The Lord will always be faithful in doing His part, but we need to be faithful in what He asks of us, and then He will bless us. We see the blessing in this chapter, we’ve heard of the measure of blessing that we can have in days passed when we’ve been willing to submit, and if we could just return and submit, the Lord will be faithful in blessing us again.