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May 10, 2020 12:00 pm
Have your Bibles with you today to turn with me if you would to Genesis chapter 18 we look at verses one through 15 and the Lord appeared to him but out some Amro as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day, he lifted up his eyes and looked at the whole three men were standing in front of them. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, oh Lord, if I've found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant little water be brought wash your feet and rest yourself under the tree while bring a morsel of bread that you may refresh your sales and after that you may pass own since you've come to your servant so they said do as you said and Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said quick 3C is a fine flour needed make cakes and Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf tender and good gave it to a young man who prepared it quickly.
Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared and set it before them, and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. They said to him, where is Sarah your wife and he said she is in the tent. The Lord said, I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son and Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were all old advanced in years, the way of women it ceased to be with Sarah so Sarah laughed to herself saying.
After I'm worn out and my Lord is old. Shall I have pleasure. The Lord said to Abram, why did Sarah laugh and say July indeed bear a child. Now that I am old is anything too hard for the Lord at the appointed time I return to you about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son. But Sarah denied it, saying I did not laugh, for she was afraid. He said no but you did laugh. Let's pray heavenly father we bow in your presence this morning to praise you, hallowed be your name. We're living in a strange time and just to be honest, it's hard to know who to trust doctors are not in agreement with what's going on.
Politicians are using the crisis to push political agendas. Financiers are speculating on how to use the pain of others to make themselves rich institutions that we use to trust and admire seem very untrustworthy. Father, we need stability teach us to learn through this crisis that your promises are true that your character is impeccable at your word is clear and that your love for us is unquestionable. We ask that you remove fear from our hearts give to us peace that passes all understanding put steel in our spiritual backbone and they are testimony shone brighter than ever before. Help us to remember to put on the whole armor of God, help us also to remember that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places father today is Mother's Day, we thank you for the calling and the position you have given to our moms help them to carry out that calling for our good and for your glory.
40 is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen. Today is Mother's Day a day for us to honor God by honoring and appreciating our moms. I chose the text to preach from this morning that might seem to be an unusual text for a Mother's Day but I'll love this text I love this text because here we see an imperfect mother-to-be who is given great hope now the English word for hope does not do justice to the Hebrew and Greek words for hope.
The English word for hope is kind of a, if the expectation is a lot of uncertainty in the word like we say we hope it might rain. That means it might rain it might not. But the word for hope in the Hebrew and in the Greek is very close to the to the theological word for faith.
It means an absolute absolute future and future certainty. There is no uncertainty about it and in the light of Sarah's frustration and discouragement. God gave her what God gave her some very, very important things. He gave her hope by asking her a question or rhetorical question, is there anything too hard for God as some of you moms are in situations right now or you may be feeling a little bit hopeless maybe you have a child it's hooked on drugs. Maybe you have a husband that's addicted to alcohol. Maybe you have a husband that is left you walked away from the family and is walked away from the families left you with the children and scant financial resources. Maybe you're in a situation where you been sick in your weak and anemic and you got a question and that question is is there hope is there light at the end of the tunnel. When we have moms here in our church that have little babies. I get to go up to the hospital after that baby is born and I walk into the hospital room and the mothers they are and she's holding the little baby and we get a talk for a little bit in and talk about the baby's name and other things and then I pray with the mom, but I always share a particular verse with that newborn mom and that verse is from the words of Jesus in John chapter 16 verse 21 it says this when woman is giving birth she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby. She no longer remembers the anguish for joy that a human being has been born into the world the joy of the newborn baby washes away the date the anguish and the pain of childbirth went when that mom is holding that little baby in her heart cuddling that little baby to herself. When all that's going on. She is able to forget about the pain and anguish of childbirth. When I share that verse. With these new moms all those moms just smile because they know that what Jesus said is exactly true. This is a verse that is just a it is just bursting at the seams with hope.
Today's theme is Sarah's hope, but I was still at first it. Sarah's laughter laughter. We love it only.don't we love a good belly laugh at me. That is so contagious. Dear somebody just rare back and just laugh with all their heart. Sometimes I tickle my grandkids just to get them to laugh. I love to hear them laugh. We have an associate pastor here named Stacy Cox many of you will remember Stacy. Stacy is a pastor now in Georgia but I remember when he was leaving our church. I started thinking about all the things about Stacy that I liked and Stacy was a really good youth director did a great job with our youth. He did a really great job with our young adults. He was ahead of an evangelistic zeal. I mean he would he would witness to anybody at any time. I love that about him.
I love the other, the way that we could get together and share Bible verses together and I love being able to go down to Clemson in meeting they are for Clemson football game, but one of the things that I love most about Stacy was his laugh.
He had a contagious laugh. He could laugh and he could make you laugh. I remember going to restaurants with him and sit down and and we were eating we start talking about something start laughing and the laugh would get so loud that people in the in the restaurant where it would stop eating and actually stare at us. Sometimes I would call Stacy on the phone at night and after I got off the phone. Cindy would say what in the world was so funny Stacy had a contagious laugh, and this may sound crazy, but when I'm doing premarital counseling.
I will say to the wife the to be out. I will say tell me about how your future husband has benefited you tell me what drew him to you telling what tell me what what makes you guys tick and I'm been amazed at how many times the women will say to me. He makes me laugh. He makes me laugh. You know that that's not enough to keep a marriage together manage these a whole lot more than that, but I'll tell you. That helps it helps a lot.
Laughter is a good thing. Proverbs chapter 17 verse 22 says that a merry heart do with good, like medicine. I love it when a Christian can just kind of Kennett, let his guard down a little bit and just cannot lie after the to the top of his lungs.
What a joyful thing that is your joy is one of the fruits of the spirit and one of the fruits of joy is laughter. So how can something as wonderful as laughter. The wrong will. I think there are times in settings where laughter can be an appropriate. For example, if you were at the deathbed of one of your loved ones and they were getting ready to to go into eternity.
It would be inappropriate to laugh if you read a news conference and the guy was getting ready to just share with the world that America had been attacked by another country that would be an inappropriate time to laugh. If someone is been hurt or if they have made a mistake and you laugh that could be very cool if you intentionally laugh in order that you could put somebody down.
That would be inappropriate laughter. I could go on and on but in the story that we are looking at today we have what would certainly be considered inappropriate laughter and it was not laughter that came from the heart of Sarah who was the wife of Abraham. You remember the setting for this story.
Abraham does does not recognize these three men that come to meet him at his house.
He doesn't recognize them, but he shows them great hospitality. He gives them water to drink. He washes their feet. Hey brings them into his into his home. He gives them a place to set a place to rest and then he runs out and he kills the fatted calf and get some help for the answer and then get somebody to helping prepare it and then he goes to his wife Sarah Nick. He gets her to to help make some food, some vegetables in the put it all together and he brings these men together. They sit at the table and they experience what we would call a feast or a great banquet that seems to me that that Abraham didn't even eat himself at this it at this time. Verse eight says this, that he prepared the meal and he said it before them, and he stood by them under the tree as they as they ate. Abraham did all the work didn't even take the time to eat.
He was so concerned and it was so careful to help them out because he wanted to show them great hospitality. He wanted to be sure that they were well taken care of no where was Sarah. During all this time and that particular day. The Bedouin tents were very big tents and almost all of them had a divider in them a barrier or curtain so the tent could be split up into two rooms and during that time it was inappropriate for a wife to to eat with a bunch of strangers even if the husband was there so so during this time, Sarah is on the other side of the divider she can. She she's there and she can't see the strangers and they can't see her but she can hear the conversation that is going on.
But as Abraham talk to these men, he is suddenly gripped with the realization that these are not three ordinary men, one of them is God Almighty. This is called a theophany. This is what where the other, the actual bodily appearance of God is there a theophany now. Of the three persons of the Trinity, who had a body, the second person of the Trinity.
Jesus Christ did. He had a body. So what we have here is called a Christoph and he a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ we have Jesus and two angels. The folks Abraham just passed a great test for in Hebrews chapter 13 verse two we read these words do not forget to entertain strangers for some have have unwittingly entertained angels, but sets a New Testament reference to this very event on encourage you to take a minute and really meditate on what's going on here. This trio of strangers that have come to meet with Abraham are God and to angels puts this is Jehovah God L. Shaddai. This is the great I am.
This is the creator of the universe is the one who placed the stars in the sky. This is the one who knows past history. Every single second.
That's taken place in past history and not only does he know that he knows future history.
He knows exactly what's going to take place in the future.
Now does this God need a meal not God doesn't need anything.
He's God but but God desires God to a desires to to enter intertwined himself into the personal life of Abraham. He sitting at Abraham's table and he's eating a delicious steak. Can you imagine that this is God and and him can you imagine the conversations that might have gone on many guises. Abraham cannot have another biscuit and maybe says to an angel due past A1 sauce. Now I'm not being flippant here, but this is what happens in a meal is what goes on at a normal meal and this was a normal meal where God was there that that seems too far out to be true than remember this 2000 years after this meal, the creator of the universe left his throne and glory, and came down to this earth to become a man. He was born of a virgin and he lived for 33 years here on this earth. And just like this God. Eight a dinner with Abraham. This same God for 33 years sat at the table with lots of people eating and fellowship in with them and then that God then that God that we know is Jesus went to the cross and died on the cross and shed his blood to pay for our salvation to purchase our salvation dies a substitutionary atonement for us folks were not talking here about great humanitarian.
Were not talking about here. Just a really good man. This is God and he sitting down at Abraham's table and he is eating a meal with Abraham books this God came from heaven. If that doesn't blow your mind. Nothing will. And not only should it just blow your mind. But it all the humble you, I really humbled when I think about what I did for somebody like me, a sinner like me that he left his throne and glory that he came down to this earth to die for me at knots all the pride out of my heart. I shouldn't be proud of anything except for the fact that I know this Jesus, so this is setting of the story knowest take a look at Sarah's inappropriate laughter and their three points that I want to share with you.
Number one. Sarah addressed look with me at verses 9 to 11 they said to him, where Sarah your wife any said she is in the tent.
The Lord said, I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son and Sarah was listening at the tent door behind them. Abraham and Sarah were all old advanced in years, the way of women had ceased to be was Sarah. The Lord speaks to Sarah through his speaking to Abraham necessary is behind the divider in the tent and she hears the question that God asked in the question that God ask is this Abraham. Where is Sarah your wife now remember who this is. This is God. God is omniscient. He knows all things.
So why is he asking this question. Does he not know where Sarah is now. He knows exactly where Sarah is.
He is asking this question in order to prepare Sarah in order to make her think you know if you go through the New Testament, Jesus often did this the often ask questions to force people to think and act and act in John chapter 6 Jesus is get ready to feed the 5000 with five loaves and two fish. At any says to Philip, where we can get the food to take care of all these people then John agile commentary. He said he said the testing Philip because Jesus knew exactly what he was going to do I think of the garden of Gethsemane when the Roman soldiers came in to arrest Jesus and Jesus asked them a question.
He said are you seeking that he Jesus not know who they were seeking. No, Jesus knew exactly who they were seeking. But he asked this question in order that he might display his power.
He said who are you seeking and they said we are seeking Jesus of Nazareth and then Jesus responded. I am in your English translations of the probably say I am he that he's not in there in the Greek what he was doing was saying this I a.m. the grade I a.m. I am Jehovah.
I am the Almighty God and by the power of his name. All of those soldiers were not off of their feet and they were knocked off their feet so that they were bound down in a prostrate position before Jesus absolutely paralyzed.
They couldn't even move.
You see, Jesus was making a statement for the entire world. He was saying. I voluntarily give my life no one takes my life from me so that's what's going on here.
The Lord is asking questions not to gain information that he doesn't know. But to accomplish his will with Sarah. We have the same dynamic in prayer, think about it. Think about it the E if the Lord already has all the information that he could possibly have all of then if he knows what we need. If he knows Hannah give us exactly what we need and what do we even need to pray. One of my favorite conversations from one of the Chronicles of Narnia books. I can't remember which one it was, but to the children were talking about Aslan Aslan is that great lion that represents Christ in one of the kids says this if Aslan perfectly knows the future, then why do I need to ask him for stuff and the other chalices.
This because Aslan likes to be asked folks God likes to be asked when we pray when we asked and God answers. Then God is glorified in here in the story God already knows about Sarah, but but he is he is forcing her to react for her benefit, not for his benefit.
A W toes or said the following about God's of missions is a God knows instantly and effortlessly. All matter and all matters, all mind and every mind all spirit in all spirits all being and every being all preacher hood and all creatures every plurality all pluralities all law in every law, all relations, all causes all thoughts all mysteries all enigmas. All feelings, all desires every un-uttered secret all thrones and dominions, all personalities, all things visible and invisible, in heaven and earth, motion, space, time, life, death, good evil heaven and hail we can fool others but not the unblinking omniscient God.
He sees our shoes how our shoes fit and the soap residue on our hands. He knows our unspoken thoughts. But that's the God that we are dealing with and was Sarah hears her name mentioned her ears perk up. They can't see her she can't see them, but let me tell you this. The Lord has got serious attention and the Lord says to Abraham loudly so that Sarah can hear as well pieces.
I will return to you after about a year, and Sarah will have a son that was at this time that Abraham's eyes were opened.
AA really began to realize at that point in time that this one, he was standing in the door of his tent was the same one for 25 years ago told him that he was going to have a miracle son that was good. I have descendents that would be as many as the sand of the sea and the stars of the sky. This is the one who in Genesis chapter 15, entered into a covenant with Abraham Haney walked through the cut pieces of carcasses in a figure 8 ceiling that covenant with Abraham. This is the one who said Abram I am changing your name from Abram to Abraham which means the father of many nations, but this is L Shaddai, the God who is more than enough and he says to Abraham, you are going to have a son and it's going to happen soon.
Nevers 11 sets the stage for it says this Abraham and Sarah were all well advanced in years and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Sarah was postmenopausal she was almost 90 years old. Abraham was almost 100 years old. They were not spring chickens that takes us to .2 and .2 is. Sarah responds look at verse 12 so Sarah laughed to herself saying after I am worn out in my Lord is old. Shall I have pleasure. Sarah laughed but it was not allowed belly laugh.
It was not even a quiet snicker. He was an inward laugh. It was a laugh would look where the noise of laughter never crossed her lips. The laugh was in her faults. Have you ever been in a situation where your listing to someone talking you realize that what they're saying is just really bizarre and you don't say anything. You just keep looking at them and if they keep talking you begin to realize while this person is is out in left field are not playing with a full deck. Then this person is not firing on all see cylinders he doesn't have a clue, but you'll say anything so you're just looking at this person and he has no idea that you think that he might just be a loony bird. Well I think that's what Sarah is doing here. She's not being ugly.
She's not being impolite.
Her mind is just boring and she is shaking her head in unbelief, saying, is no way that that could happen. That is no way that this all worn out body that I have could produce a baby. She thought of herself as a decrepit old woman thought of Abraham.
Her husband has a tired old man a baby that could never happen will takes us to the third point and that is Sarah reproved verse 13 through 15. The Lord said Abram.
Why did Sarah laugh and say July indeed bear a child. Now that I'm old is anything too hard for the Lord at the appointed time. I will return to you about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son. Sarah denied it, saying I did not laugh, for she was afraid. He said no but you did laugh and what does it mean that Sarah was reproved or in other words, what's the definition of a reproof reproof is the very slightest form of discipline. If you got a child, that child is acting up. If it's bad enough they needed to give him a a strong discipline you might need to spanking but if it's just a little thing that he's doing. You might just give him a reproof a very slight form of discipline, maybe a slap on the wrist and what is that that's a warning so wake-up call to that child that this will reproof is God is obligated to reprove Sarah. The reproof could have been much tougher with the Lord dealt gently with Sarah. Sarah laughed in her heart that God's promise, but left her laugh was sin it was inappropriate because it was a laugh of unbelief limits a few quick things about unbelief number one unbelief is sin. At this point in the story. We do not know if Sarah realizes who these three people are.
We don't know if she understands that yet, but if she didn't know at this point in time that this was Almighty God. This was to angels that her unbelief would have really been reprehensible. But whether she knew the strangers are not her unbelief was inexcusable to laugh as Sarah did was to call God a liar in first John chapter 5 verses 10 through 11. John said this whoever believes in the son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar because he is not believed in the testimony that God is born concerning his son, and this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life in this life is in his son will look at unbelief like that.
Do we we take unbelief very lightly. It was John Stott who said unbelief is not a misfortune to be pitied.
It is a sin to be deplored. Unbelief is an all out attack on the character of God. Second, unbelief always leads to other sins.
Unbelief is the mother C and its apparent sin is the sin from which all other sins flow right out of it only give you a few examples. What about fear is fear related unbelief with you have fear not trusting God to take care of you.
What about greed. How does that relate to unbelief, will if if you are are greedy, then you're hungry in your first dream thirsting after stuff here hundred and thirsting after stuff because you don't believe that God is really the fountain of life that can satisfy your needs about lust. Lust is much like much like greed we lust because we don't believe that fellowship with God is gonna satisfies so we got a try and find our satisfaction somewhere else. Jeremiah 213 says this for my people have committed two evils. They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters and hued out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. And what is that that is refusing to believe that God will satisfy us and running after the garbage of this world to try to get satisfaction from something that can ever give us satisfaction. Sarah's unbelief led her to lie God's it went well.
I did Sarah laugh at my promise. Sears, on the other side of that divider they can't see her but she's here and everything and she is trembling with fear and she screams out. I did not laugh and the Lord said no but you did laugh you see what Sarah forgot was this God not only hears our words but he also hears our thoughts.
He hears her thoughts in her mind she was snickering with cynicism.
Thinking I don't know who this stranger is, but he's delusional if he thinks that I can have a baby at my age, folks. This is why sin must be confessed and forsaken quickly that this is while you have to deal with it immediately after it happens. Don't wait and let it linger. It's like poison ivy you got poison ivy on your arm and and it itches and you want to scratch it be you know if you do the poisons gonna spread in the itch is gonna be even deeper. Sarah was toying with unbelief. In this situation. She was toying with unbelief and that led her to lie to God. Thirdly, God does not treat unbelief lightly when God said to Sarah.
No, but you did laugh. He was letting her know that he doesn't sweep our sin under the rug. He can't do that yet we think of ourselves will the sin that we committed it just a little peccadillo. It's just a trifling little sin. It's not any big deal does not really offended by this all how wrong we are. Our God is so holy that he is offended by what we would consider the very least of sins, and that sin must be dealt with all of what's behind God's reproof of Sarah. He doesn't rebuke her to hurt her, he rebukes her to correct her, he rebukes her and chastens her because he loves her. But this takes us to Hebrews chapter 12 pages to Hebrews chapter 12 tells us, for whom the Lord loves he chastens and scourges every son whom he receives. If we be without chastisement, then we are masters and not sons. No chastening. The present seems to be joyous, but grievous, but nevertheless afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness. God chastens us to make us holy God chastens us because he loves us any wants to restore us. So in the midst of God's rebuke, there is grace God sister, Sarah, is there anything too hard for God to anything too hard for God, the term too hard in the Hebrew is Paul and what does it mean it means great. It means wonderful, miraculous, gloriously great, what is God saying God is sincere. Is there anything to miraculous to wonderful to gloriously great for me to handle it or anything too hard for God. The answer to that is no nothing is too hard for God. The God that we serve is a God. The place billions of stars in the sky. He is a God that put the planets in orbit.
In such a way that they never smash into each other is a God that put the earth exactly 93 million miles away from the sun so that we would not fried we would not freeze. He's a God that put exactly the right vegetation here on this earth. So we would have the right amount of oxygen in the right amount of carbon.folks, if that's the God that we serve. Was it any kind of problem for God to give Sarah a miracle baby who this was not difficult for God in the midst of God's rebuke to Sarah. She is overwhelmed by his grace will share with you what James Boyce had to say about this and the listener what he said about about this grace, he said. When Sarah laughed at God. God could have said well since you've not believed in me the promise of a son will not come to pass. I will establish the redeemers line in some other way. But God is slow to anger and Sarah's unbelief did not turn his announced purposes.
It said I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son now he repeats the promise I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son. How we doubt him. Donald Ray Barnhouse reminds us that God made water flowing from a rock in the wilderness. If the people doubted that he could furnish bread, although he rained manna from heaven. They question whether he could furnish meat, even Moses counted the soldiers and told God that there were not enough animals in the flocks and herds to feed them and asked sarcastically.
If all the fish of the sea would be secured for them.
God replied is Jehovah's arm wax short to Jeremiah, God said, behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me is anything too hard for the Lord is one of the great rhetorical questions of the Bible and deserves a personal response from everyone who hears it is any problem in your life any difficulty you face too hard for God.
Can you imagine any circumstance that God cannot control. Today is Mother's Day moms you can learn from a 90-year-old mother to be the wife of the father, the faithful Abraham, and what is Sarah have to teach us what did Sarah have to to give us. I think she told us this. Don't give up. Don't give up. Don't let suffering and hard aches lead you to the point we just quit. Don't do that. I think Sarah had learned the lesson that that Paul teaches us in Romans chapter 5 verses 335 when he said this, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Moms, I'm ask you to do something today I would say when you get home. Do this, but you're already home. Soma ask you to do this. I'm ask you to make a plaque like that would make it out of paper and on that plaque. I want you to put a question and put this question at the top of the plaque is there anything too hard for God and then at the bottom of that plaque. But the answer Luke chapter 1 verse 37 with God nothing is impossible. Take that plaque put it over the over the front door every time you go out of your house look at it. Is there anything too hard for God no, for with God nothing is impossible for spray heavenly father I pray for our moms these days even tougher mamas. Some of our moms have been struggling to make ends meet. Where there's been loss of jobs and cut salaries. Many mothers have been worried that their children might get infected or their husbands might get sick.
Most of our moms are ministering to children who schedules a been turned upside down in their board and filled it up energy give those moms patients and extra energy them sales Lord fill our moms with hope and use these trials in their lives to help them increase endurance and to build character. Make them tender but tough. But most of all make our moms like Jesus. 40 is in Jesus precious and holy name we pray. Amen