Empowered by Faith: Lesson 3

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WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Abraham & Sarah

Key Verse

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Genesis 15:5

Read Genesis 15-17 & 21-22:19

Key Points

• God promised Abraham descendants

• Abraham & Sarah tried to second guess God’s will

• God’s promises do not come with an expiration date

Overview

God promised Abraham descendants

God made a promise to Abraham. God told him that he would not just have descendants. God told Abraham to count the stars. That’s how many descendants he would have. That’s a lot of descendants!

In some ways, the story is similar to Noah and the ark. A lot time went by and still no children for Abraham and his wife Sarah. This might not have been a problem for Abraham but Sarah was well beyond the years for childbearing. Yet God was calling Abraham to be the father of a nation. Like Noah, there was a long time between God’s call and the completion of the task. Noah kept working away, building the ark. Abraham became discouraged, fearful. He lost faith, as did his wife, Sarah. And that’s when the trouble began.

Abraham & Sarah tried to second guess God’s will

Time went by and Sarah was convinced she was WAY too old to have any children. She knew God had promised her husband children so she decided God must have meant for Abraham to have children with another woman. Rather than having faith in God’s plan for their lives and future, Sarah and Abraham decided to take matters into their own hands.

Sarah told her husband that he should try to have a child with her maid, Hagar. And Abraham agreed. After all, what could go wrong? Abraham and Hagar had a son. This was good news. The bad news is Sarah became very jealous of the younger woman and her son. It didn’t help that Hagar wasn’t satisfied to go back to scrubbing floors once she became the mother of the heir of the master of the house. Eventually, Abraham kicked Hagar and her son out which made her very bitter and led to a conflict that continues today. But, that’s a story for another day! Abraham and Sarah didn’t have patience to wait for God’s plan to come into its time, tried to force things to happen and ended up with a mess!

God’s promises do not come with an expiration date

Abraham and Sarah were really, really old. Sarah was long past childbearing years and Abraham, well, he was getting up there too. God made a promise to them and Sarah and Abraham looked at that promise through human eyes rather than seeing it through God’s vision. By human standards, they might have been too old to have children but by God’s promise, there was still plenty of time left.

God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah didn’t come with an expiration date. It was going to happen in His time, no sooner, no later.

For Today

It is difficult for us to be patient while we wait for God’s timing. As time goes by, we come up with all kinds of reasons things are not going to happen the way God told us they would. We become convinced we made a mistake. God couldn’t possibly have meant what we thought He did. After all, if it was going to happen, it would have happened already. Yet day after day goes by and nothing happens.

Faith Vs. Fear

We may eventually feel we are too old to accomplish the task God has called us to do, that we no longer have what it takes. I honestly believe God waited until Sarah was many, many years beyond childbearing years for her to have Isaac. This is a lesson for us. We are never too old to accomplish what God has called us to do. We must control our fear so we don’t overreact, doing something foolish like Sarah and Abraham did. We can’t manipulate things to try and fulfill God’s promise all by ourselves. We must simply be patient and wait for God’s time.

In Sarah’s day, it was an embarrassment for a woman to be unable to have children. this was one of the most important things a woman did, if not THE most important. Blame for infertility often fell on the woman. SHE must be doing something wrong. Sarah had lived with this burden all her adult life and now the time was past when she could ever hope to have children. Was it any wonder Abraham and Sarah had doubts when the Lord told Abraham he would have children. Not only would Abraham be the father of children but his wife, Sarah would give birth to his children, his child, his son. I understand why Sarah laughed when when overheard this discussion. Where is the line between having faith in God and being practical?

Sarah had enough faith in God’s words to believe what He said about Abraham, that Abraham would be a father. Sarah just didn’t have enough faith to believe she would be a mother. So, out of fear, she encouraged her husband to have children with her servant. We know how that turned out.

When Noah was called to build a ship, he got to work. When Sarah was called to be a mother, she laughed. It’s easy to think the timing is wrong, to believe our moment has passed, that someone else should do the task God is asking us to do. We would be wrong. God’s timing is always right, even when we think we are too old, too… fill in the blank. It is important for us to press on, to act as if it has already been accomplished. In God’s eyes, it is a done deal so there is no reason for us to have doubts, no reason for us to hesitate. We must have faith that God’s plan will succeed.

Consider This

Has God ever made a promise to you that seemed far-fetched?

How can you maintain your strength as you wait for the fulfillment of the promise?

Create a list of promises God has made & fulfilled. Then make a list of God’s current promises. Keep both handy for easy reminders!

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