Patience of Faith - Sarah
Believing God • Message 6
July 26, 2020
Good morning Brookwood! It’s great to see all of you here this morning. Welcome to those of you joining us through the Online Campus as well. We continue our series entitled Believing God. Today, we focus on Patience of Faith as we look at Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Her story, as mentioned in Scripture, is one that that I believe many of us can relate to. She had ups and downs. She had times of unbelief. She scoffed at the promises of God. She had times where God spoke to her. Ultimately she experienced God, believed, and then benefited from God’s promises. I hope that today’s message provides encouragement to those who have experienced ups and downs in your faith journey.
This leads us to our memory scripture that is found in Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm for God can be trusted to keep His promise. Hebrews 10:23 (NLT)
Let’s start by taking a look at Hebrews 11:11-12. If you have this Bible we are on page 972. It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep His promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. Hebrews 11:11-12 (NLT)
What I find interesting is the writer’s choice of the words “Even Sarah”. Sounds like it was a surprise that Sarah is included. Kind of like one our daughters saying as we were eating dinner one night that the food was actually pretty good. True story.
Even Sarah. What about your life? Can you relate to that saying? Even, put your name in there. You being here today…is it an “Even Rick, Even Lisa, Even Sandy” kind of experience? Reflect on your walk with the Lord. You might just find those moments where you are like…Even I am loved…blessed…used by…held…by God.
As we continue in the scripture we see why EVEN is used. Sarah gives birth to a son, Isaac, EVEN though she was barren and too old. Not just old…too old. Reminds me of the time I went to the doctor to look at doing some kind of injection into my knee because of arthritis. He said, and I quote, “For someone your age, that horse has left the barn”. True story.
The horse had left the barn for both Abraham and Sarah naturally speaking. However, as Jesus tells us in Luke 18:27, … “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” Luke 18:27b (NLT)
Let’s dig into Sarah’s faith journey. As you look at your outline, I pray that God will help you see yourself in Sarah’s story. We are going to take a look at the development of Sarah’s and our faith life. We begin on the outline with:
My Faith development is…
1. Initiated by GOD.
All of our faith lives begin with an initiation of and from God. Look again at Hebrews 11:11, It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep His promise. Hebrews 11:11 (NLT) God initiated with Abraham and Sarah through a promise. Turn or swipe all the way back to the first book of the Bible, Genesis, chapter 12, verse 1. Page 11 if you are using this Bible. 1The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3 (NLT)
Turn over to Genesis 15. God continues to speak with Abram and gives him another specific promise. After Abram is concerned that he will not have an heir, God says this in Verse 4, … “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” 5Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” Genesis 15:4b-5 (NLT)
Lastly, move over to Genesis 17. We do not have time to discuss all the promises God is communicating to Abram, now Abraham, but it’s worth reading on your own. In verse 15, God initiates concerning Sarai, 15Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah. 16And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.” Genesis 17:15-16 (NLT)
The first and second initiations from God deal with Abram being blessed by God to have descendants that will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. More specifically that he will have an heir…a son. The third initiation from God gives Abram a new name: Abraham and Sarai a new name: Sarah. And that He will bless her and give her and Abraham a son.
Side note: Sarai translates into contentious or quarrelsome; chieftan. Sarah translates into princess ruler or queen.
Initiations by God are blessings! Abraham and Sarah haven’t done anything to deserve or earn God’s blessings. In fact, The Law hasn’t even been introduced yet so it isn’t like Sarah can boast and say, “God has blessed me because I’ve been good.” Sarah is blessed because God chose to bless her. And the initiation by God is not just for Sarah as we will see but for many nations and descendants.
How has God been initiating with you? How has He been communicating to you? Some people say, “I don’t know. I don’t really hear from God much.” Take a moment to reflect on your life. Ask God to give you awareness of Him and how He has initiated with you before and maybe you missed that it was Him. Thank Him for allowing you to be here this morning either in person or online; ask Him what He has for you today.
Let’s continue on our outline.
My faith development is…
2. Possible despite UNBELIEF.
I would love to tell you that Sarah and Abraham walked in the promises of God and lived happily ever after. However, like us, their path was a bit crooked. Unbelief can be specifically about promises God has initiated with us or it can be generally about God and his provision. Twice, once in Genesis 12 and again in Genesis 20, Abraham lies to Pharaoh and Abimelech about Sarah being his sister instead of his wife because he was afraid. Fear was stronger than Faith.
Sarah’s unbelief shows up in Genesis 18 but let’s look at chapter 16 and 17 quickly. In chapter 16, Sarai comes up with the idea that the servant girl Hagar should be given to Abram so an heir can be produced.
Before we give Sarah a hard time over this we need some context. She was old and past child bearing age. Abram had been promised by God to have an heir. AND… during this time, this practice would have been common. The culture would not have blinked an eye. The issue is that neither Abram nor Sarah asked God what He wanted; they both assumed this was a good way to go. Yet scripture tells us in Proverbs 14:12 There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Proverbs 14:12 (NLT) It seems right. Even if it seems right getting the truth from God is best.
Chapter 17 is full of God’s promises to take care of Ishmael but ultimately a child that will be born to Abraham and Sarah, whose name will be Isaac, will be the one that God will make his covenant with.
13 years had passed since Ishmael was born. I’m sure the prevailing thought was that Ishmael was the heir; he would be the one through whom Abraham’s descendants would come from. Yet that wasn’t God’s plan.
Now we get to Sarah’s unbelief in Genesis 18. We pick it up in verse 9, 9“Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked. “She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied. 10Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!” Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. 11Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. 12So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”
13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ 14Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 15Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.” But the LORD said, “No, you did laugh.” Genesis 18:9-15 (NLT)
Let’s be honest: I can relate to Sarah here. She is 89 years old! Abraham is 99 years old! By the time they have Isaac she will be 90! He will be 100! I would probably laugh too! She doubted. She didn’t believe. In fact, Romans 4:19 says her womb was dead! And when the Lord confronted her about laughing she lied and then He confronted her about lying!
This thing is going from bad to worse. Life moves pretty fast sometimes doesn’t it? Yet through the unbelief God does not renege on His promise because He’s the one in control. Your unbelief doesn’t change God’s promises either. A promise is a promise is a promise. Now, what you have to look at is this: Did God promise you something or is it something you want/desire?
I have seen people’s faith in God be derailed because they were hanging on to something that God did not promise but they wanted or desired. This is why reading the Bible and praying are so vital to us because that is where God will speak to us what He has promised us. Galatians 6:7 says that we cannot mock the justice of God; we reap what we sow. Now, I’m not sure what or how or in what form I will reap but rest assured it will happen. Too often we box God into the exactness and then we are disappointed by the results. “I gave $100 to a charity and I’m supposed to get $100 back or $1,000” “I was nice to my coworker, I’m supposed to get a raise.” As a wise friend once told me, “Can you leave the results up to God?”
I think we can when we allow our faith development to be shaped by experience. That is the next fill in on the outline
My faith development is…
3. Shaped by EXPERIENCE.
In Scripture, the first words God speaks to Sarah are, you’re 89 but you’re going to have a baby, why did you laugh? And you lied. Not a stellar start to her faith journey eh? Yet, I wonder how we would respond? How did we respond when we became aware of God? It says that Sarah was afraid. How did you feel? Were you afraid? Skeptical? Accepting? Whatever the response you had, it was just the beginning of an eternal journey. As Dallas Willard says, you entered the kingdom of heaven.
I remember feeling overwhelmed. Many tears as God’s love invaded my soul. If He had told me all those years ago I would be where I am today, I probably would have responded as Sarah did. However, my faith and Sarah’s faith were shaped by my experiences with Him. Notice I said with Him. Too often we give too much attention to our circumstances and experiences with other people, our job, our church activities, our school as pathways of having God experiences at the cost of one on one time with God. Certainly God can work through others and circumstances to develop our faith, and I am a fan of being in a group like Essentials or Care Ministries Training, or going on a mission trip to help those in need.
But don’t forget that God started a relationship with you one on one. He pursues you. He woos you. He loves you. He gave His one and only son, Jesus, so that whoever believes would have everlasting life. You and I are those “whoever.” The value of something is determined by what someone will pay for it. God paid His son for you. That means you have immense value. How does that feel?
Today, if you are not sure that you have had THAT experience with God, after the service there will be people outside that will talk with you about it. If you’re in our online campus, you can say you’d like to talk with someone in the chat area and a pastor will connect with you in private chat.
How do we know Sarah had experiences with God? We don’t know much about Sarah’s experience with God, but Scripture does give us the outcome of those unknown experiences; the reaping. Hebrews 11:11 says, … She believed that God would keep His promise. Hebrews 11:11b (NLT)
She believed. She believed. She believed before Isaac was born not after. She had been barren her whole life. The Scripture mentions it six times! But God… This leads us to our last fill in and that is
My faith development is…
4. A consequence of trusting God’s PROMISES.
Sarah was challenged with believing God’s promises but her experiences with God caused her faith to grow. As her faith grew, she began to trust God’s promises and reap the blessings that followed. These two areas—faith development and trusting God’s promises—go hand in hand.
Look at how things turned out. God gives Sarah the power to give birth; the power to be a mother. Who knows that giving birth and being a mother require supernatural power? Sarah laughs, not scoffing, but with joy once Isaac is born (Genesis 21:6-7). In fact, Isaac’s name means “he laughs.” Interesting how God used the doubting laughs of both Abraham and Sarah to be a blessing to them as they laughed with joy. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit by the way.
Faith has power. That’s why the enemy doesn’t want us to have it. The world doesn’t understand it. We all have the opportunity to develop it. Why is that? Because: God delivers on His promises. No one is as faithful as God. There is a mighty harvest from Sarah as she becomes the mother of nations as God said back in Genesis 17.
So what is God calling you to trust Him with? Finances? Relationships? Kids? Eternity? Whatever it is, God will develop your faith. As we close, remember this: Faith always produces a “therefore.” Because you are faithful, a result occurs. But what are you developing your faith in? Is it God or self? Is it God or someone or something else?
If you want to connect with us to help with that faith development, we want to come alongside you.
If you’re in our online campus, you can click the Care and Support link that’s about to pop up or simply say you’d like to talk with someone in the chat area and a pastor will connect with you in private chat.
If you’re here onsite, we have pastors and care volunteers outside who would love to talk with you as you leave.
As we close in prayer, I also want to thank you for your continued giving through this pandemic. It makes a big difference in God’s work in our community and for our partners around the world.
The offering baskets are in the hallway as you leave, or you can click the GIVE link in our Online Campus.