"Faith in God's promises releases God's power." [Warren Wiersbe]
Genesis(93) (Part of the Origins(91) series)
by Stuart Johns(204) on December 19, 2021 (Sunday Morning(291))
All-Powerful (Omnipotent)(14), Faith(16), Faithfulness(14), Obedience(27), Promises(11)
“JIT is a form of inventory management that requires working closely with suppliers so that raw materials arrive as production is scheduled to begin, but no sooner. The goal is to have the minimum amount of inventory on hand to meet demand.
JIT inventory management ensures that stock arrives as it is needed for production or to meet consumer demand, but no sooner. The goal is to eliminate waste and increase the efficiency of your operations. Since the main objective is often quality and not the lowest price, JIT requires long-term contracts with reliable suppliers.
JIT is what’s known as a lean management process. In JIT, all parts of any production or service system, particularly people, are interconnected. They inform each other and are mutually dependent on generating successful outcomes. This practice’s origin comes from Kaizen, a Japanese term meaning “change for the better.” Originating in Japan, the business philosophy looks to continuously improve operations and involve all employees, from assembly line workers to the CEO. Like JIT, the goal is to reduce waste and improve quality.”
We had a miscarriage between our second and third sons
Since Judy’s body did not naturally remove the fetus, she had to have a procedure to remove it
The procedure created scar tissue, which posed a problem with the next pregnancy – our youngest son
It is not uncommon for the egg to implant low in the uterus, because of the scar tissue
Early on in that pregnancy, Judy was diagnosed with placenta previa
This condition happens when the baby’s placenta partially or fully covers the mother’s cervix – the outlet of the uterus, which leads to the birth canal
Natural birth is not an option and delivery requires a C-section
During the pregnancy we kept praying that the placenta would move up the uterine wall and not cover the cervix
God answered those prayers, and we saw, through various ultrasounds, the movement of the placenta
Judy was able to have a natural delivery of our third child
We trusted and had faith in God’s power and ability to cause the placenta to move on its own
God allowed the placenta to move just-in-time
Every one of us can probably share a time when we experienced God’s power through our faith arriving at just the right time
It was not too early or too late
We may have felt like it was too late or getting too late, but it was not
Perhaps our experience is centered around a medical issue or pregnancy
Maybe our experience had to do with finances and God providing at just the right time
Some people have experienced God’s perfect timing through relationships
Students can attest to the fact that God helped them to complete a paper or project, just-in-time
Abraham and Sarah have been living in the Promised Land for 25 years. Abraham had received a word from God of a promised son. While he may have thought that Ishmael was that promised son, the Lord reminded him that the promised son would come from him and Sarah. At just the right time, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham. God’s promises are Le J.I.T. (legit/legitimate). Sarah had heard the promise just a year before and had laughed with doubt. Abraham had also laughed when he heard the promise, but his laughter was filled with faith instead of doubt. What we will see today in Genesis 21:1-7 is that . . .
BIG IDEA – “Faith in God’s promises releases God’s power.” [Wiersbe]
GOD (Genesis 21:1-7)
Obtained (vv. 1-2)
The Hebrew is literally “visited”
It meant that God intervened in the affairs of humanity
It meant that God supernaturally superseded nature
He was concerned about Abraham and Sarah
“. . . we have here an instance where visit takes on the connotation of Yahweh mercifully delivering one form an apparently hopeless situation, that is, infertility.” [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 72-73]
PRINCIPLE #1 – God keeps His promises!
He is never early and never late
He keeps His promises in His time and in His way
This is especially difficult for us in America, because we are accustomed to instant gratification
Most times we do not have to wait for anything
Patience is a virtue, but it is one virtue most people in our society lack
“Trusting God’s promises not only gives you a blessing at the end, but it gives you a blessing while you are waiting.” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 99]
Most of us do not recognize the blessing while we are waiting
We become frustrated and angry with God
We experience dissolution toward God
Doubt in God’s ability to do the supernatural begins to creep in, which can breed doubt in His existence, love, compassion, and care for us
That doubt can drive people away from a personal relationship with the Lord
In the midst of our frustration, anger, dissolution, and doubt, we have to hold on to faith in an all-powerful God who is able to do far more than we can ask or imagine
“Faith is a journey, and each happy destination is the beginning of a new journey. When God wants to build our patience, He gives us promises, sends us trials, and tells us to trust Him.” [Wiersbe]
Is God building your patience right now?
What promises has He given to you? (take a moment to write those down)
What trials are you experiencing, currently? (take a moment to write those down)
Are you trusting the Lord through those trials?
James 1:2-8, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
God can and will keep His promises to you and me
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Patiently wait, through the trials I am experiencing, for God to fulfill His promises to me.
Abraham and Sarah had to exhibit a great deal of faith as they waited 25 years for the promise to be fulfilled
That is what we see in the verse 2
Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son
This happened when Abraham was 100 years old
That seems amazing to us, but God is able to do the miraculous
God continued to sustain Abraham in his old age, because he remained alive until this promised son grew up to be an adult
God’s sustaining power is incredible!
Faith in God’s promises releases God’s power!
This promised son came at the very time God intended for him to come and according to the promise given the year before
God waited for Abraham and Sarah to be “as good as dead” so that their son would be a miracle from Him and not just from a natural process
Read Romans 4:17-21
Ephesians 4:20-21, Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
While we see the faith and patience of Abraham and Sarah, we also see Abraham’s obedience
Obedience (vv. 3-5)
Abraham names his son
NOTE: “Both Isaac and Jesus were named before they were conceived (Gen. 17:19; Luke 1:31). Both mothers conceived through God’s supernatural activity. Both sons fulfilled the Abrahamic covenant.” [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 183]
He gives him the name Isaac just as God had directed him
Genesis 17:19, Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
The name Isaac means “he laughs”
Genesis 17:15-17, God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are not longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”
As we saw in Romans 4, Abraham’s laughter was not without faith – he still believed that God was able to accomplish what He had promised
“Isaac was designated as the fruit of omnipotent grace working against and above the forces of nature.” [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 155]
Abraham not only names his son Isaac, in obedience to the Lord's command, he also circumcises him
Abraham circumcised his son
On the eighth day, after Isaac’s birth, Abraham circumcised him
Genesis 17:10-12, This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner – those who are not your offspring.
PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when His people obey His commands.
Abraham was obedient to the commands of God
Are we obedient to the commands of God?
This is a question that we need to ask ourselves
“There is a simple exercise I walk through with church leaders. First, I have them list all the things that people expect from their church. They usually list obvious things like a really good service, strong age-specific ministries, a certain style/volume/length of singing, a well-communicated sermon, conveniences such as parking, a clean church building, coffee, childcare, etc. Then I have them list the commands God gave the Church in Scripture. Usually they mention commands like ‘love one another as I have loved you’ (John 15:12), ‘visit orphans and widows in their affliction’ (James 1:27), ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Matt. 28:19), ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Gal. 6:2), etc. I then ask them what would upset their people more – if the church didn’t provide the things from the first list or if the church didn’t obey the commands in the second list. . . . God had given clear commands in the Old Testament He expected His people to obey (613 things to be exact). Then along the way those people created additional traditions God never actually asked them to do but they felt were good ideas. . . . Honoring traditions made the Pharisees feel like they were obeying God when they actually weren’t. . . . Many of us have become so accustomed to various traditions that we genuinely think they are commanded.” [Francis Chan, Letters to the Church, 46, 48]
Francis Chan’s comment hits close to home for many of us
Are we more concerned about our expectations being fulfilled and traditions being followed or obeying the commands of God?
How are we doing with obeying God’s commands?
I know for myself, and I’m guessing the same is true for every one of us, that we can improve in the area of obeying God’s commands
That is what pleases the Lord
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Choose to obey God’s commands and identify at least one command where I need to improve.
Imagine what it will look like when we focus on obeying the commands of God instead of our own expectations and traditions
The Lord will be pleased and we will be more unified, holy, and loving
What an incredible opportunity we have to continue to develop these qualities as followers of Jesus Christ
Abraham obediently followed the commands of God and Sarah worshiped the Lord for His grace extended to her
Overjoyed (vv. 6-7)
Sarah’s laughter has been transformed
Before, she laughed to herself
Genesis 18:12-13, So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’”
Now, she laughs openly and encourages others to join in her laughter
“Sarah credits God with changing her laughter of incredulity (17:17-19; 18:12-15) into joy. All will now laugh in joy and amazement with Sarah.” [Waltke, Genesis, A Commentary, 293]
Even Sarah’s statement about her nursing a child, shows the joy she is experiencing
PRINCIPLE #3 – God is glorified when we rejoice at the display of His sovereign power.
The birth of Isaac obviously helped to strengthen Sarah’s faith
How often does the display of God’s sovereign power strengthen our faith?
When the initial diagnosis says there is something there that needs further investigation, but when the time comes for that appointment, the doctors cannot find what was originally there (our faith is strengthened)
The end of the month is coming, but there is not any more money to pay bills and someone anonymously drops off an envelope with money in it (our faith is strengthened)
The furnace, air conditioner, or vehicle breaks down and we do not have the money to repair it, but God provides the money through the benevolence fund at church or through other people (our faith is strengthened)
How have you seen the display of God’s sovereign power in your life?
Has it strengthened your faith?
Have you taken time to rejoice and thank the Lord?
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Rejoice in the Lord for displaying His sovereign power in my life.
“Nothing can give such deep, lasting satisfaction as the faithfulness of God, demonstrated in the fulfillment of his promises especially, perhaps, after a long time of expectant waiting.” [Baldwin, The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Genesis 12-50, 85]
Are you waiting patiently for the Lord to fulfill His promises to you?
What command of God do you need to improve upon?
Do you need to rejoice in God’s sovereign power at work in your life?
God has given promises to His church, so we have to wait patiently for His timing
God has given His church commands that we need to be following
Corporately, we need to rejoice when we see God display His sovereign power in the life of the church
“We become so used to reading about miracles in the pages of the Bible that it is easy to lose an appreciation for how startling they are. In an attempt to recover the wonder, let’s take a moment to observe the response to such an occurrence in a modern medical context. The details of the following account were reported in the Chicago Tribune, September 8, 1981.
A woman whose ovaries ceased to function almost three years ago has given birth to a healthy 9-pound baby girl, baffling doctors at three hospitals. ‘It is impossible, impossible,’ the 35-year-old woman quoted one of the doctors as saying when he detected a fetal heartbeat. In effect, the birth took place after the woman . . . had gone through menopause, her doctors said.
The woman had been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure and was told she did not have to worry about getting pregnant. A further complication was that the woman was on hormone medications to ease the symptoms of menopause. These medications typically serve as effective contraceptives. Dr. Jerry Rakoff, director of the Scripps Clinic Medical Group’s Fertility Center had confirmed the diagnosis of another physician but was also the one who eventually discovered that the patient was pregnant.
Rakoff said neither he nor Dr. John Willens, the University Hospital physician who delivered the baby on August 18, had ever heard of birth by a woman with a well-documented case of premature ovarian failure. . . . Rakoff said that there is no medical therapy to reverse premature ovarian failure. He said that he and Willens believe an egg may have been left after the ovaries shut down.
We can see that even in today’s world of medical sophistication, this is a remarkable obstacle for God to overcome.”
[Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 499-500]
How does all of this tie in with Christmas?
Jesus came just in time