Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

                                                                                                                                                                                                            7-5-05

Sarah - Lady in Waiting

   Hebrews 12:1-12:2

 


Today, I want to talk about one of those “Heroes of the Faith” that Paul talks about in Hebrews.

In Hebrews 12:1, Paul declares that you and I are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.


And that because we’re surrounded by that “cloud of witnesses”, our lives should reflect Jesus Christ in everything we do.

He refers back to chapter 11, and names some of the men and women who make up the “Heroes of the Faith”.

He calls them a “great cloud of witnesses” so there must be more of them than He has room to mention in Hebrews 11.

At this very moment, in heaven, thousands and maybe millions of Godly saints are watching the race that you’re running for Jesus.


They see you each time you stand tall for Jesus.


They see you each time you resist the fiery darts of the enemy.


They see each kind act you do.


They see you each time you fall short.


They see you when you’re a saint, and they see you when you’re a sinner.

Paul wants you to know this morning that we have cheerleaders in Heaven.


The greatest heroes of the faith are cheering for you and me.

Adam, Moses, Noah, David, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Sunday…

And wait a minute…there’s another cheerleader mentioned here in chapter 11.


And this one is different from those other heroes.


This “Hero of the Faith”, mentioned in Hebrews 11:11, goes by the name of Sarah, and she’s the first lady mentioned in Paul’s hall of fame for Heroes.

I must confess to you that there is so much spiritual meat in Sarah’s life that it’s hard to boil it down into a few worthy snapshots.

Genesis 12 shows that Sarah was a woman of grace and submission.


Do you remember when Abraham and Sarah were forced to go to Egypt because of the famine?


Do you remember how Abraham said to Sarah as they were about to cross the border, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.”

She was 65 when Abraham pulled this stunt!


I can’t imagine what would happen to me if I tried to pull that mess with my wife!

Let’s say I’m being pulled over by the highway patrol for speeding.


I look at my wife and say, “Honey, when the policeman asks who we are, I’ll tell him you’re my sister and send you home with him. Then maybe he won’t give me a ticket!”

I’d be dead and Sierra would be in jail for murder!


Sarah was a woman of grace and submission!

Sarah was also a woman of patience, at least with her husband.


Genesis 20 tells us that Abraham pulled the whole “Say you’re my sister” stunt again with King Abimelech.

He passed Sarah off as his sister twice and lived to tell about it!


She was a woman of patience, at least when it came to Abraham.

Sarah was a woman of grace and submission to authority, until it came to her having a baby.


Sarah was a woman of patience, until it came to believing that she could still conceive.

We’re going to focus in Genesis 17 and 18 on Sarah’s promise, patience and pregnancy.


And out of that 20 year experience, we’re going to learn some truths that we can apply to our lives.

I believe that Sarah would jump at the chance to stand here this morning and share the happiness and heartbreak of her life.

 


I believe that she would have some words of advice to share with us.

This evening, we’re going to listen to Sarah as she describes her life as a “Lady in Waiting?”


There are 3 pieces of hard won wisdom that I believe Sarah would share with us today.


First, I believe that Sarah would challenge you.


She would say…


1. Don’t be afraid to believe that God will do great things through you.


God has never used most of us in a great or mighty way.

Most of us have never prayed and seen a miracle as a result.


Most of us have never given our testimony and seen thousands accept Jesus.


Most of us have never started a new church and seen it grow for God.


Most of us have never experienced dramatic growth in our own church.

Most of us live a pretty ordinary Christian life.


We come to church a few times a week.


We read our Bible a few times a week.


We pray a few times a week.


We just muddle through life spiritually, never seeing the power of God really fall on our lives.

That was exactly where Sarah lived her life.


God had spoken to her husband, but He was silent to her.


God has made promises to her husband, but not her.


She went about her routine of life, doing the same old things the same old way.


She was probably happy and content in her comfortable routine.


She just muddled through life one day at a time.


But God wanted to do something wonderful in her life!


God wanted her to participate in a miracle!

God wanted to promise a 90 year old woman a baby.

 

(Think about that ladies!)

Listen as I read Genesis 17:15-19: “And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.  And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.  Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?  And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!  And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”

Abraham’s first response was skepticism.


He couldn’t believe that God would do such a thing.


He really couldn’t believe it..

Later, 3 men showed up at Abraham’s camp.

Who were these 3 guys who ate dinner with Abraham?


Biblical Theologians are divided about who these 3 men were.


Some say that they were simply 3 human beings who God used to deliver a message to Abraham.

Some theologians say that the 3 men are simply 3 angels sent to do God’s work.

To be honest, I have a hard time with both of those explanations.


Let me explain…


Where were these 3 men going?

 

Sodom and Gomorrah

Genesis 18:16 tells us that after they ate, “…the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.”

They were certainly not just human beings, because of their holy mission to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

I don’t believe that three men could destroy two cities.


They ate with Abraham, rested a while, and got up to continue to Sodom and Gomorrah to destroy it.

OK, if they weren’t men, were they angels?


Scripture seems clear to me that 2 out of 3 of them were angels.

How do we know that?


Look over in Genesis 19:1.


Two of the men reached Sodom later in the evening.

Genesis 19:1 states, “And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground.”

So all 3 of the travelers weren’t angels, because only 2 of them were called angels when they arrived at Sodom.

Well, then who was the 3rd  traveler?


I believe that the 3rd  traveler and guest at Abraham’s table that night was God Himself.

Look with me at Genesis 18:16-18.

 

And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.  And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?”

It seems clear to me from this passage that one of the 3 travelers was Jehovah God, and He was traveling with 2 angels.

Think about it friends…God sat down at the dinner table with Abraham!

Ok, that’s settled…anyway, God and 2 angels arrive at Abraham’s camp and sit down to dinner with him.

In the midst of dinner, God made a startling prophecy.

Listen as I read Genesis 18:9-15: “And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.  And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son.  And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.  Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.  Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?  And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD?  At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.  Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.”

Sarah made the mistake of not believing that God could use her for great and mighty things.

Sarah made the mistake of not believing that God would give her what she wanted more than anything else in the world, a son.

Sarah made the mistake of not believing that God would use an ordinary woman to do an extraordinary miracle.

May I ask you a question this evening?


Are you guilty of settling for a boring faith?


Are you afraid to believe that God might choose to do something miraculous through you?

Do you know why we don’t see God work as mightily as He could in Eastside Baptist Church?


Do you know why too many of our lives seem to lack spiritual horsepower?


Do you know why we’ve settled for “Average” when God wants “Outstanding”?

It’s simply because we lack faith.


We don’t really believe that God can and will and should use us to do something great.

May I share with you the result of failing to believe that God can do whatever He wants in our lives, our families, and our church?


Look with me at Matthew 13:54-58.

 
“And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him.  But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.  And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”

There’s a mighty spiritual principle at work here.


Jesus is a gentleman.


He’ll never force Himself on you.

If you suffer from unbelief, he won’t do many mighty works in your life!


If you’re afraid to let God use you in a great way, He won’t.


If you’re afraid to believe that God will do great things through you, He won’t!

God will pass you by and choose a willing servant to use for His glory.

I believe that Sarah would beg you.


I believe that she’d say “Don’t be afraid to believe that God will do great things through you.”

And 2nd I believe that she’d warn you.

 

She’d say…


2. Don’t hurry God…He’ll accomplish His will in His way and time.


Sarah was 55 when God first promised Abraham that He would be the father of a great nation.

Sarah was 89 when God told her she’d bear a son within a year.


Sarah was 90 when Isaac was finally born.

Sarah waited 35 years for God to keep His promise!

But, along the way she tried to hurry God.


Genesis 16 tells us how she tried to force God to make a great nation by taking her maidservant, Hagar, and giving her to her husband Abraham.

The son they produced, Ishmael, became the father of the Muslim peoples.

Sarah tried to hurry God, and the result was a disaster!

Are you ever guilty of hurrying God?


Do you ever pray for patience….right now!?


Do you ever tell God exactly what He needs to do, how He needs to do it, and when you need it done?


Have you ever given up waiting for God to answer your prayers?


Do you ever try to get in there and “Help God” with a difficult situation?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’ve been guilty of trying to hurry God!

Sarah would look you in the face and say….DON’T DO IT!


She’d tell you that trying to hurry God only caused her heartache and pain!


She’d tell you that trying to hurry God only complicated and frustrated her life.

This evening, Sarah would warn you.


She’d say “Don’t hurry God…He’ll accomplish His will in His way and time.”

If Sarah were here today, she would have some great words of wisdom to share with us.

She’d say,


“Don’t be afraid to believe that God will do great things through you.”


“Don’t hurry God…He’ll accomplish His will in His way and time.”

And last, she would say…


3. Remember That God will Keep His Promises.


Genesis 18:12 tells us that when God told Abraham that Sarah would bear a child within a year, she laughed at Him!

Genesis 18:10-12 says, “And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.  Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.  Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”

Can you imagine…Sarah laughed at God…and He heard her!

May I remind you of something this morning?


God hears you too, when you laugh at His promises.

He knows every shred of unbelief in your Spirit.


But, Christian, hold onto this fact…you can take it to the bank!

If God has made a promise to you…He will keep His word!

In the end, do you know what made Sarah a hero of the faith?


In spite of her momentary lapse, Sarah had the faith to believe that God would keep His promises.


How do we know that?

Look with me at Hebrews 11:11.


“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.”

Sarah is listed with the heroes of faith for only one reason…”she judged Him (God) faithful who had promised.”

Sarah had faith in God’s promises…and God delivered exactly what He promised!

What promises are you still waiting on God to keep?

Some of you may have desperate financial needs this evening.


May I remind you of God’s promise?

He said in Matthew 6:25-34, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.  Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”


Do you have the faith to remember that God will keep His promises?

 

God doesn’t forget like we do.

 

He will keep every promise He ever made in His Word.

Some of you may be struggling emotionally…doubt and depression and low self esteem.


May I remind you of God’s Promise?

He said in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

And then in John 14:15-16 He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”

Remember, there’s nothing that can happen to you today that you and God can’t handle together!

Some of you may be struggling spiritually.


May I remind you of God’s promise?

He tells us in Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

 

Jesus will never quit on you. 

 

If you are one of His, then He has begun a work in you that will not be finished until He takes you home.

Sarah would have wonderful words of wisdom to share with you today.


I think that she might say:


Don’t be afraid to believe that God will do great things through you.


Don’t hurry God…He’ll accomplish His will in His way and time.


Remember That God will Keep His Promises.

Amen.                                                                                                  

 

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