Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
Did you notice Sarah’s sin in this passage? It’s one we often have much compassion for, but make no mistake—her sin was a serious sin.
It was the sin of unbelief. The sin of essentially calling God a liar.
John Stott put it this way: “Unbelief is not a misfortune to be pitied; it is a sin to be deplored. Its sinfulness lies in the fact that it contradicts the word of the one true God and thus attributes falsehood to Him.”
When God says He will do something, He will do it—it might not look like we think it should look (or even want it to look) and it might not happen when we want it to happen, but God will do it. To believe otherwise asserts that God isn’t honest.
Sarah’s response and laughter revealed her unbelief rooted in self-pity. Her focus was fixated on her ability, which was an inability to bear a child (a promise God hadn’t fulfilled yet). But belief holds fast to the promise and trusts that God can and will do the impossible—that God will do what He said He will do.
As serious as Sarah’s sin of unbelief was, God’s grace was greater. Later in this exchange, the Lord Himself asks this question: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
This question isn’t rhetorical. It can be answered. And the answer is: no, nothing is too hard for the Lord. Nothing.
Is anything in your life too hard for the Lord? Are there promises He has made that you think He can’t keep? Are you laughing within yourself at the prospect of God doing the impossible? Repent today—put away your self-pity and believe. Listen to our study in Genesis 18 and learn from Sarah’s sin.
“…when [Abraham] saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground…”
Genesis 18 opens with Abraham enduring a hot day. Trying to stay comfortable. Waiting for the cool of the evening…and maybe wondering how God will fulfill the promise He’s made.
He lifts up his eyes from the sandy, stony ground and something catches his eye—people! Desperate for any sign from the Lord, this 99-year-old man runs (he runs!) to meet these mysterious men, bows down, and calls one of them, “My Lord.”
Now Abraham was the patriarch of a large community. He could have assigned the responsibility for hospitality to one of his hired hands. But he didn’t. He ran to meet the Lord. He ran to serve his Lord…himself.
It’s no wonder that the Lord Himself calls Abraham His friend forever throughout the scriptures:
“Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?” —2 Chronicles 20:7
“But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend.” —Isaiah 41:8
“And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.” —James 2:23
What a wonderful thing it is to be called a friend of God! Are you in Christ? Is He the Lord of your life? If He is, Jesus calls you His friend:
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” —John 15:13-15
If you don’t know Jesus as your friend—today is the day to run to Him! He longs to call you friend. He wants to share the burdens and joys of life with you. He laid down His life so that you can call Him your friend.
There’s a lesson we can learn from Abraham in Genesis 18. When the wait is long…when circumstances are uncomfortable…when your gaze is down in defeat—lift up your eyes…see your Lord…and run to your friend, Jesus.
Listen to our study of Genesis 18 and hear about the friend who sticks closer than a brother.
“As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.”
God was going to make good on His promise to give Abraham’s many descendants the promised land of Canaan. But…in order to give the promised land to Abraham’s descendants, he would first have to have descendants.
And that where the next test of faith would begin. A test that seems to stack the deck against even the remotest physical possibility of the promise being fulfilled through human ability. A test that would put Abraham in a place of total and complete dependence on God.
Circumcision…an outward symbol of an inward work. The removal of the flesh to symbolize the rejection of our reliance upon the ability of the flesh to do the work of God.
You see, only God can do the work of God. We cooperate with God by faith, but we can’t accomplish the work that only God can do. God wanted Abraham…and us…to know that there was no humanly way His promises could be fulfilled by human means.
Abraham was starting to get it. He was fully convinced that God was able to do the impossible AND willing to do the impossible.
“He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.” –Romans 4:20-21
Genesis 17 brought many issues to the surface about faith and obedience. Listen to our study and discover the many applications it has for your life today.
Just a heads up…street parking on and around St. Germain may be limited this Sunday morning (11/11/18) due to the Veterans Day Parade (thank you for your service, veterans!). The parade starts at the St. Cloud Public Library at 1pm on Sunday. There is ample parking in the St. Mary’s lot on the south side of the buliding (just off of 1st Street South). See you on Sunday!
“No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.” –Genesis 17:5
With just a breath, God changed Abram’s name from “Exalted Father” to Abraham—“Father of Many Nations”. God called something that did not yet exist as though it did.
And Abraham, in hope, believed…and so became the father of many nations. You might think that after all his mistakes and after all his waiting and wondering that Abraham’s faith would be diminished and depleted.
But it wasn’t.
It was tested. It was tried. And it was found to be true. Because faith that isn’t tested isn’t really faith at all. Abraham’s faith was tested and found true…again and again. Why? Because He had more opportunities to see the faithfulness and ability of Almighty God.
And his faith would continue to be tested again and again. The name change didn’t exactly make it any easier to hope in the promise. “Father of Many Nations” wasn’t any easier to hear than “Exalted Father”…especially when you only have one child by way of a shortcut you thought would help God out.
Even still, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations…”
Listen to our study of Genesis 17 and discover this hope Abraham had in God’s faithfulness.
2nd & 4th Fridays • 6:30-7:30pm • St. Cloud Area Family YMCA - Upper Room (2nd floor)
Join us as we gather for a time of fellowship on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month in the Upper Room at the St. Cloud Area Family YMCA. We’ll read a portion of the Bible together, pray, reflect on what we’ve read, and have a brief discussion about the passage. It's a great opportunity to get to know the word of God and the God of the word! There is no prep work or homework—just bring your bible, a pen, and a notebook. No registration necessary. This study is open to the community–you do not need to be a member of the YMCA to attend. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Against ALL hope, Abraham IN hope believed.
Abram (soon to be called Abraham) faced that fact that his body was as good as dead. He wasn’t stupid. He knew that the possibility of being an “Exalted Father” was diminishing daily this 99 year old man continued to wait on the 24 year-old promise of God.
Abram did not waver through unbelief regarding God’s promise. No, Abram was fully convinced that God could do and would do what He had promised to do.
This will be important to remember as we study Genesis 17 & 18—chapters that are strangely full of laughter for various reasons and in various forms.
Abram will laugh for one reason. Sarai will laugh for another…and God is going to give them both a gracious gift with an every day reminder that He (and only He) was the one who gave a gift worth laughing over—so that in the end, they could ALL laugh for all the right reasons.
What was the cause of all this laughter? Listen to our study of Genesis 17 and learn about the hope of Abram at this important moment in his faith.