“Keeping The Faith While We Wait” – 5-28-17

Some rooms are incorrectly labeled such as: the bathroom when all there is is a shower, the dining room when you rarely dine in it, the kitchen should be labeled the cookroom but there is one room which is totally labeled correctly in this world, it’s at the doctor’s office and it’s the waiting room! In today’s world of seemingly tight time framers, you need to plan on one things you will be waiting in any room labeled the waiting room. I hate to wait. I lack patience. I can barely sit still, did I mention that I hate to wait?

Well here is a truth today: God all too often makes you wait. I am guessing almost each and every one of you is waiting on God for something, something. The bigger the something is, the harder it is to keep the faith, yes faith in god and His promises. Now let me clarify two things: first, my concern is that today’s sermon might feel like just a bunch of Christian platitudes and I hate using platitudes a lot so bear with me and secondly, I am truly preaching to myself. So…

So let’s see if we can get better at keeping the faith while we wait….on God. Solomon said, “To everything there is a season,” which is in essence saying God does everything right on time, right when it’s supposed to happen, in His time. Our problem is that we often don’t understand what He’s doing or why. And God never pulls punches saying in Isaiah 55:8-9 that His thoughts and ways are not our own, they’re much higher and beyond our ability to comprehend, that is, without special revelatory knowledge.

Well let’s look at the number one man in the Bible who had to wait, Abraham. Here is a man who had faith while he waited, he waited 25 years for his first kid after God told spoke to him and told him he would be the father of a great nation. That’s waiting! Now forgive me but I must condense Genesis chapter 12 through 22, read it if you want Abraham’s whole story. What did Abraham do while he waited? What do we need to do while we wait? I’d like to briefly look at and discuss with you six phases in which faith moves, and these are not rigid and inflexible, but rather they are fluid and we flow in and out of each phase as God works His faith within our lives.

1. God’s Dream
God does give you His dream, he does give you His will, even though it may often seem hard to see or understand. Remember our Isaiah scripture. When you have no children and you’re 75, becoming a great nation is a dream. A dream is something God gives us. A dream can also be called a promise. It’s God’s way of blessing us so that we can be a blessing to others. And so my question to you is what is God’s dream for your life?
After the dream comes
2. The Decision
Abraham was told to leave all he knew, that is, his home, family, and friends, and he had to go to a place he knew nothing about. He had never been there. He didn’t take a trip to Canaan to get the lay of the land and he couldn’t Google it for the route and hotels. God said go and Abraham went. When God gives us a dream He usually couples it with an action, a starting point, and we have to decide whether or not we’re going go. Having a dream without making a decision to follow isn’t worth the time spent to dream it. Also, every dream of God has an element of risk attached requiring a step of faith.
3. The Delay
After the decision comes a delay. Ten years go by and no child. Abraham is waiting. Often when we are waiting we take a detour or two and Sarai did. Culture said it would be OK for her maidservant to have a child by Abraham and it would be their’s and that’s what happened.
When you take things into your own plans during the delay, God won’t bless it. Dreams are rarely fulfilled immediately, because during that time God wants to grow our faith.

4. The Difficulty
Here’s the difficulty, Abraham is now 100 and Sarah’s 90. Ladies, think about giving birth at 90 years old, and guys, we’d probably have a heart attack. Problems develop while we wait. It’s where things go from bad to worse. But with God’s promise comes God’s fulfillment, and Abraham and Sarah had a boy and name him “Isaac,” or “laughter.” They had laughed at God’s promise. Now at this point we’re tempted to think that the process is over, and this is probably what Abraham thought as well until the next phase.

5. The Dead End
God said in Genesis 22 to take Isaac, the one son he had waited for, and head up the mountain and sacrifice him. This was God’s test of faith. God allows our dreams to seemingly die as a test of our faith. The test comes in how we’ll react. Will we doubt God’s love, wisdom, and purpose?
What God is actually doing is getting us ready for the last and final phase

6. The Deliverance
Genesis 22:12 “ He (God) said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
So let’s get this straight, I believe God is going to take us through these phases or most of these phases many times as we continue to seek his will and desire to build His kingdom and the reason is so that we can keep growing our faith. What phase do you see yourself in now? What are you waiting on God for now? What to do about it? Paul wrote about Abraham and he gives us some definitive actions.

Romans 4:17: “as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.”

1. Focus On What God Can Do
While the situation may be out of our control, it isn’t out of God’s control. The key is to focus not on what we can’t do, but what God can do. Paul is saying that God can either bring to life what has died, or He can create something new out of nothing. God can give life to a career, marriage, or a dream. He can bring life to something that looks and feels like it’s dead.
Jesus said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

Abraham didn’t put his faith in himself, or in the power of positive thinking. Instead He believed in God. When we come to those dead ends we need more than positive thoughts, we need faith in God and in God alone. When we get to those dead ends we need to remember what God can do, because what’s impossible for us, is not impossible with God, because with God all things are possible.
This leads us to the second thing we need to do in God’s waiting room.
2. Trust God’s Promises
Paul then said about Abraham, Romans 4:18, “Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” Even while it looked hopeless for Abraham to have kids, Abraham beyond all hope, when hope seemed dead, in hope, he believed. How can we tell if hope is dying in us? It’s when we start using the word, “never.” But look at what Abraham did when hope seemed dead. He believed in hope, he kept faith in God and in His word.

Nothing is more reliable than God’s word. It was Abraham’s reliance on God’s word, God’s promise that kept him going when he more than likely wanted to give up. This is why we need to read and study God’s word, so that when the trials and tests come, when difficult times come our way, when hope seems dead, we can in hope believe. When Abraham was at the seemingly dead end of God wanting Isaac to be sacrificed, you will find in the scripture Abraham didn’t panic, plead, or disobey; instead He believed God’s word and obeyed.

Hebrews 11:19a tells us Abraham obeyed “concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.” When Abraham headed up the hill he told his servants, “We will come back to you.” Not, “I’ll be back,” but “We’ll be back.” When Isaac asked his dad where the lamb was for sacrifice, Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb.” Genesis 22:8 and Abraham called the place, Jehovah Jirah, or “The Lord Will Provide.”

When the trials of life come, when God tests our faith asking us to sacrifice our dreams, we can, like Abraham, beyond all hope, in hope believe. Think about the disciples. Things looked bleak for them as well. All hope seems to be sucked out of their souls. Jesus, whom they believed was the Messiah, and who had told them that He was the Son of God, was forcefully taken, unlawfully tried, convicted of a crime He didn’t commit, crucified, and buried.
Things don’t get much worse, they were crushed, their hope was dead, they didn’t know that the resurrection was right around the corner.

God specializes in turning dead situations and resurrecting what looks hopeless. Abraham became the father of many nations just as God promised. A promise is only as good as the one making the promise. And since God made the promise, the promise will come about, trust Him.
The next thing that we do while waiting on God is to:

3. Face the Facts
Romans 4:19-20, “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God”

Abraham recognized they were too old. Kids seemed to be a medical impossibility. Abraham doesn’t deny these facts; instead he faces the facts with faith. Faith doesn’t ignore reality. Faith doesn’t pretend a problem doesn’t exist. Faith is facing the facts without being discouraged by them.
Faith is knowing the problem but believing God is working out His good through it. It’s as Paul said, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 The last thing we do while waiting on God is:

4. Rejoice in Anticipation
It’s expecting God to act and do good even if it’s not the way we planned it. Romans 4:20-21
“No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”
Notice he rejoiced before the fact, before the promise was achieved. When we thank God for something after it happens, that’s gratitude, but when we thank God before it happens that’s faith.

When Jesus went to Lazarus’ tomb, His purpose was to raise him from the dead, but before He commanded Lazarus to come out Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank you that You’ve already heard Me.” Jesus was thanking God in advance. Our faith isn’t seen after the fact, it’s seen before it. It’s thanking God for His deliverance even in the midst of the storm.

So all the world can really offer us is wishful thinking.
• The world hopes for the best but it’s Christ who offers us the best hope.
• Jesus can turn our hopeless dead ends into endless hope. and
• If you’re at a dead end, believe God’s word, face the facts, and rejoice in God’s promises.
Beyond all hope, in hope believe.

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