THE WAIT OF FAITH
Have any of you had the experience of saying something to your child/spouse/ pet that you needed to hear for yourself? Recently our cat has been very vocal - wakes me up before my alarm goes off, wants food, then wants to go out, wants to be pet, wants to play… so every morning I’m telling her - “Mia, you’ll get it but you just have to wait”. And so many times when we are agitating with God about something, this is what he would say to us…
We have been in a series on Hebrews 11 - the wall of faith and we’ve passed by the portraits of Abel as we learnt about the Worship of Faith, Enoch as we learned about the Walk of Faith and Noah as we learnt about the Work of Faith. But as I was pondering about the lives of the people we are going to talk about today- Abraham and Sarah – I wondered what would be the overarching theme and this is it - it is not a popular word but it is - WAIT. In fact, Hebrews 11: 13 says “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” If anything characterizes the faith of Abraham Sarah, it is how they handled the WAIT of God. It is a faith that dares to leave a legacy. I’ve entitled this message - the Wait of Faith.
Hebrews 11:11 “By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.
Gen 11 - 23 Story of Sarah: (Sarah’s narrative)- The introduction of Sarah was - now Sarah was barren; she had no child (Gen 11: 30). Abram hears the call of God to move from Haran where they were settled to a foreign land that he doesn't know until he gets there. The bible only tells us that he took Sarah and Lot. Now Genesis doesn’t tell us about Sarah’s character, but Peter does in 1 Peter 3:5-6 “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord. And you are her children if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”
While they were travelling, there were 2 instances (Gen 12 and Gen 20) when Abraham asks her to pretend to be his sister in front of a king so that he will not be murdered because of her beauty. Both times God comes to her rescue and the kings are begging Abraham to take Sarah back. I wonder if Sarah has a close relationship with the one who rescued her when her earthly protector failed her.
Then one day after dinner, Abraham goes out for a stroll and God speaks to him again while he is looking at the stars and the sand - he says your offspring will be like the stars in the sky and the grains of sand in the desert. He must have come home and shared it with Sarah because she has had enough of this waiting. She says, “Here is my servant, please fulfil your promise through her”. How many of us have said to God “you’ve chosen the wrong person” or “It’s just not going to happen with someone like me”? And Abraham says, sure, why not and has Ishmael with Hagar. But that was not the fulfilment of God’s promise.
When Abraham is 99 and Sarah is 89 years old, he comes home after receiving this name change from God. he says I'm no longer just Abram (Honored father), but Abraham (father of a multitude of nations) , and guess what, God gave me a new name for you too. You are no longer Sarai (My princess/ My woman of strength) but Sarah (princess/woman of strength). “15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife Sarai, you shall not call her by the name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Sarah gets a bad reputation for laughing at the promise of God, but did you know that when Abraham received this promise, his first response was to laugh as well? 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man a hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, give birth to a child?”
Then one day Abraham shows hospitality to 3 men. One of them is referred to as the LORD. He says to Abraham that in a year Sarah will conceive. And Sarah of course laughs and he confronts her. She says, I did not laugh and he says oh but you did! And in the amount of time that God spoke to Abraham about, Sarah Conceives and gives birth to Isaac which means, he laughs.
Though there was a long waiting period for both Abraham and Sarah, we see three types of distinct responses in Sarah’s life regarding the promise of bearing a child - the flesh response, the soul response and the spiritual response.
Q. How do we respond to the promises of God in our own life?
The flesh response (Hagar and Ishmael)- This is when we try to attain the promises of God in our life in our own strength. Gen 16:2 “And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.” This is where we all feel like Sarah blew it. But in that culture, this was a common practice. The equivalent today would be like using a surrogate. But why was this a flesh response? Because it started with how God did not come through. Illustration: promise to be a CEO but passed over for every promotion - maybe bad mouth your competitor? promise to preach in front of thousands, but you’re just making copies and wiping chairs for 10 years - maybe you want to leave the church and find someplace where you’re recognized... It is birthed out of the question - God why did you not come through? And it comes out in the form of self-promotion, performance, diluting your convictions, and disconnection. And in the end, it only leads to disappointment. Galatians 5:20 tells us that the works of the flesh are “hostility, strife, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions, envy, ”. It’s not to say that you don't prepare for your promise - if you’re called to lead worship, you practice your instrument, practice the presence of God, but the flesh response is different. The flesh response is trying to attain the promise without having to wait instead of becoming someone who can handle the weight of the promise.
The soul response (Sarah laughed)- the soul response is based on your thoughts, feelings and emotions. And if you’ve been carrying the big promises of God for a long time, the soul response could be disbelief/scepticism, Cynicism - this is what caused Sarah to laugh to herself when she heard the promise of God. Genesis 18 : 9-15: They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.” Nini aunty just celebrated her 85th Birthday and Sarah was just 4 years older than her when she had this encounter with the Lord. Can you imagine at that age to still holding on to a promise of having children? Illustration: Navaz’s book. Do you have promises in your life that you feel are past their expiration date? If God was to speak those promises over you all over again, what would your response be? I believe that something changed for Sarah in that encounter because the Lord had the last word… he says, but you did laugh. And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 7 And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” This is why it’s so important to keep sharing the testimonies of God every Sunday
The spirit response - Faith. Let’s read Hebrews 11:11-12 “By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”
God is faithful - even when we are faithless, he remains faithful. The story of Sarah is that the promises of God are not hinged on our ability to have faith, but His nature of being faithful. We might feel like we blew our chances through our mistakes and missteps but he is faithful to do what he promises. He guards his word - to the extent that he made Ishmael a mighty nation just because he was Abraham’s child.
His Power is available - By FAITH Sarah received POWER to conceive. Eph 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly, than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us”. The impossible promises of God are only possible through his power. We access this power by faith. Chad Veach says “the work of the believer is receiving”. Watch out when you feel you have no strength because his power is made perfect in weakness (2Cor 12:9)
His promise is eternal - Isaac is born to Sarah when she was 90 yrs old - the impossible had come to pass. But that was not the fulfilment of the entire promise. The promise of God was not just that Isaac would come out of Sarah but that nation would come from her. If the promise of God for your life is possible in your lifetime, it is not big enough. So the end of the story is not that Isaac was born, but that Abraham and Sarah have a legacy that is still alive and growing. Gal 3:6-7 “So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.” They are the parents of our faith and that is the fulfilment of the glorious promise that was given to Abraham.
Do you have promises that God has spoken over your life? If not, there are tonnes of promises in the Bible…
Promises of God in the Bible:
God promises to strengthen you.
God promises to give you rest.
God promises to take care of all your needs.
God promises to answer your prayers.
God promises to work everything out for your good.
God promises to be with you.
God promises to protect you.
God promises freedom from sin.
So today, trusting in God’s faithfulness, by faith let’s receive power for the promises of God to be fulfilled in our life. Some of you are carrying promises from a previous generation. Today he is here to reignite some forgotten promises, promises that we’ve just put down because it got heavy to carry them. He opens barren wombs and brings to life dry bones. He is not just the God of the improbable, but the impossible. He is raising up men of women of God who will believe him for things we’ve not yet seen - pioneer miracles.
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.