Sunday, June 22, 2014

Against All Odds


Hebrews 6:12  Do not become sluggish, (slothful; half-hearted; lazy; dull or indifferent concerning spiritual things), but endeavor to be like those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Greater blessings come with greater faith and greater patience.

This morning we are going to survey the Word of God and discover how to maximize our winning potential and stand in faith against all odds.

In order to better understand the principles we will discover today we are going to take a broad look at a 25 year span in the life of Abraham. These were critical years in Abraham’s life. Let’s begin by turning to:

Genesis 12
1 ¶  Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you.
2  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
3  I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
4 ¶  So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Abraham dutifully obeyed the LORD God and journeyed near 300 miles to the Canaanite city of Shechem, (now the Palestinian city of Nablus). Abraham, his wife Sarah, who was 9 years younger than Abraham, and all their servants lived and continued to build altars and worship the LORD while they moved throughout the Land of Canaan. Although God prospered Abraham and Sarah in many ways they were still without the single thing they longed for … Abraham and Sarah wanted a child but Sarah remained barren despite the Word God.

Abraham believed what the Lord had spoken to him but time tested his patience. God reassured Abraham on several occasions – one such occasion is recorded in:

Genesis 15
5 … "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be."
6  And Abram believed in the LORD, and God accounted it to him for righteousness.

However … after 10 years in the Land of Canaan without seeing the promise come to pass their patience wore thin – and Sarah had an idea as to how she could help God give her what He had promised and what she and her husband could do to get what they both wanted right now:

Genesis 16
2  So Sarah said to Abram, "See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her." And Abram heeded the voice of Sarah.
3  Then Sarah, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan.

Genesis 16
15  So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.
16  Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

86 years old … Abraham had been faithfully serving God in the promise land for 11 years – that’s a long time to wait on a promise from God. You know, there are some things you can do and there are some things you can’t do … and … when you are facing something only God can do – you need have patience and wait on God! Abraham had a son, born to him through a bond woman but this was not the son God had promised rather Ishmael was the son of Abraham and Sarah’s compromise.

We should bear no ill feelings or cast some poor image on this young lad, nor upon his mother Hagar, God certainly didn’t and neither did Abraham. No fault to Hagar nor to Ishmael, both God and Abraham loved them and blessed them immensely and no doubt in my mind has blessed them eternally by their faith in God’s promised Messiah ~ however ~ Ishmael was not the covenant son God promised to Abraham through Sarah.

Abraham did not have a faith problem but at one point he did lose his patience and acted contrary to God’s will. This impatient act, although put back into the hands of God and ultimately blessed by Him, caused tremendous problems in Abraham’s life, marriage, family and descendants even up and until today.

What we do while we wait on God can be a factor in how long we wait!

I know 11 years seems like a long time to wait on God to move but 11 years is evidently not long to God. In fact, God waited an additional 13 years longer, and so did Abraham and Sarah, before God’s timing opened Sarah’s womb and she conceived by Abraham and brought forth a son named Isaac. This was the son of God’s promise and only God could do it!

Genesis 17:21 “My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.”

Genesis 21:5  Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

100!!! It had been 25 years since God’s first promise … how did Abraham hold on? How was he able to stand and ultimately win even though the odds were all against him? What were Abraham’s keys to success?

Genesis 15:6  And Abram believed in the LORD, and God accounted it to him for righteousness.

Romans 10:10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Abraham had his heart right because he believed God. But having his heart right was not enough … Abraham believed God for 25 years … however Abraham not only needed to have his heart right but he also needed to have his head right. Abraham needed to captivate and control his mind and begin working with God – seeing what God saw and saying what God said.

Our trust in God moves us into the right place to receive from God however, when we have patiently waited on the Lord until all things are ready and God’s timing has come we must begin saying what God has said … it is then time to make our confession known and time to declare the Word of God over our lives and situations … we must speak our faith.

2 Corinthians 4:13  And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak.

16  Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
17  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
18  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

At the most critical point, (Genesis 17), God told Abraham that Sarah would conceive and bring forth a son in the next year – that’s when God told Abraham to begin calling himself “the father of many nations” and begin calling his wife “the mother of nations”. (Genesis 17:5 & 16)

Abraham firmly made the decision to trust God, be patient, and declare the Word of the LORD against all odds. I’ll conclude this morning with what the Apostle Paul wrote concerning this particular 25 year span in Abraham’s life.

Romans 4
17 ¶  (as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations") in the presence of Him whom he believed — God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;
18  who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, "So shall your descendants be."
19  And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.
20  He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
21  and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
22  And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."
23 ¶  Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,
24  but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.

So I challenge you:

Hebrews 6:12  Do not become sluggish, (slothful; half-hearted; lazy; dull or indifferent concerning spiritual things), but endeavor to be like those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

1.   Don’t lose heart, become impatient, or stop believing.
2.   Endeavor to be like Abraham, who:
a.   Hoped against all odds that God’s Word would prevail
b.   he Believed God
c.   Made God’s Word his daily confession
3.   Dare to Declare the Word of the Lord over your life!
4.   Give God time and opportunity to do what only He can do …

Even if it takes 25 years to reap your harvest … you still can’t do it without God!

Believe me when I tell you – you and God are both waiting on the same thing!